Decoding communities in networks

According to a recent information-theoretical proposal, the problem of defining and identifying communities in networks can be interpreted as a classical communication task over a noisy channel: memberships of nodes are information bits erased by the channel, edges and nonedges in the network are parity bits introduced by the encoder but degraded through the channel, and a community identification algorithm is a decoder. The interpretation is perfectly equivalent to the one at the basis of well-known statistical inference algorithms for community detection. The only difference in the interpretation is that a noisy channel replaces a stochastic network model. However, the different perspective gives the opportunity to take advantage of the rich set of tools of coding theory to generate novel insights on the problem of community detection. In this paper, we illustrate two main applications of standard coding-theoretical methods to community detection. First, we leverage a state-of-the-art decoding technique to generate a family of quasioptimal community detection algorithms. Second and more important, we show that the Shannon's noisy-channel coding theorem can be invoked to establish a lower bound, here named as decodability bound, for the maximum amount of noise tolerable by an ideal decoder to achieve perfect detection of communities. When computed for well-established synthetic benchmarks, the decodability bound explains accurately the performance achieved by the best community detection algorithms existing on the market, telling us that only little room for their improvement is still potentially left.

Publication Date:
Feb 28 2018
Date Submitted:
Jun 21 2019
Physical Review E

 Record created 2019-06-21, last modified 2019-08-05

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