Network topology plays a key role in many phenomena, from the spreading of diseases to that of financial crises. Whenever the whole structure of a network is unknown, one must resort to reconstruction methods that identify the least biased ensemble of networks consistent with the partial information available. A challenging case, frequently encountered due to privacy issues in the analysis of interbank flows and Big Data, is when there is only local (node-specific) aggregate information available. For binary networks, the relevant ensemble is one where the degree (number of links) of each node is constrained to its observed value. However, for weighted networks the problem is much more complicated. While the naïve approach prescribes to constrain the strengths (total link weights) of all nodes, recent counterintuitive results suggest that in weighted networks the degrees are often more informative than the strengths. This implies that the reconstruction of weighted networks would be significantly enhanced by the specification of both strengths and degrees, a computationally hard and bias-prone procedure. Here we solve this problem by introducing an analytical and unbiased maximum-entropy method that works in the shortest possible time and does not require the explicit generation of reconstructed samples. We consider several real-world examples and show that, while the strengths alone give poor results, the additional knowledge of the degrees yields accurately reconstructed networks. Information-theoretic criteria rigorously confirm that the degree sequence, as soon as it is non-trivial, is irreducible to the strength sequence. Our results have strong implications for the analysis of motifs and communities and whenever the reconstructed ensemble is required as a null model to detect higher-order patterns.

Enhanced reconstruction of weighted networks from strengths and degrees

MASTRANDREA R;SQUARTINI T;Garlaschelli D
2014-01-01

Abstract

Network topology plays a key role in many phenomena, from the spreading of diseases to that of financial crises. Whenever the whole structure of a network is unknown, one must resort to reconstruction methods that identify the least biased ensemble of networks consistent with the partial information available. A challenging case, frequently encountered due to privacy issues in the analysis of interbank flows and Big Data, is when there is only local (node-specific) aggregate information available. For binary networks, the relevant ensemble is one where the degree (number of links) of each node is constrained to its observed value. However, for weighted networks the problem is much more complicated. While the naïve approach prescribes to constrain the strengths (total link weights) of all nodes, recent counterintuitive results suggest that in weighted networks the degrees are often more informative than the strengths. This implies that the reconstruction of weighted networks would be significantly enhanced by the specification of both strengths and degrees, a computationally hard and bias-prone procedure. Here we solve this problem by introducing an analytical and unbiased maximum-entropy method that works in the shortest possible time and does not require the explicit generation of reconstructed samples. We consider several real-world examples and show that, while the strengths alone give poor results, the additional knowledge of the degrees yields accurately reconstructed networks. Information-theoretic criteria rigorously confirm that the degree sequence, as soon as it is non-trivial, is irreducible to the strength sequence. Our results have strong implications for the analysis of motifs and communities and whenever the reconstructed ensemble is required as a null model to detect higher-order patterns.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11771/6630
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