Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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The spectrum of a galaxy contains information about its physical properties. Classifying spectra using templates helps to elucidate the nature of a galaxy's energy sources. In this paper, we investigate the use of self-organizing maps in classifying galaxy spectra against templates. We trained semi-supervised self-organizing map networks using a set of templates covering the wavelength range from far ultraviolet to near-infrared. The trained networks were used to classify the spectra of a sample of 142 galaxies with 0.5 < z < 1 and the results compared to classifications performed using K-means clustering, a supervised neural network, and chi-squared minimization. Spectra corresponding to quiescent galaxies were more likely to be classified similarly by all methods while starburst spectra showed more variability. Compared to classification using chi-squared minimization or the supervised neural network, the galaxies classed together by the self-organizing map had more similar spectra. The class ordering provided by the 1D self-organizing maps corresponds to an ordering in physical properties, a potentially important feature for the exploration of large data sets.