Evaluating overfit and underfit in models of network community structure

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Authors Amir Ghasemian, Homa Hosseinmardi, Aaron Clauset
Journal/Conference Name IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Paper Category
Paper Abstract A common data mining task on networks is community detection, which seeks an unsupervised decomposition of a network into structural groups based on statistical regularities in the network's connectivity. Although many methods exist, the No Free Lunch theorem for community detection implies that each makes some kind of tradeoff, and no algorithm can be optimal on all inputs. Thus, different algorithms will over or underfit on different inputs, finding more, fewer, or just different communities than is optimal, and evaluation methods that use a metadata partition as a ground truth will produce misleading conclusions about general accuracy. Here, we present a broad evaluation of over and underfitting in community detection, comparing the behavior of 16 state-of-the-art community detection algorithms on a novel and structurally diverse corpus of 406 real-world networks. We find that (i) algorithms vary widely both in the number of communities they find and in their corresponding composition, given the same input, (ii) algorithms can be clustered into distinct high-level groups based on similarities of their outputs on real-world networks, and (iii) these differences induce wide variation in accuracy on link prediction and link description tasks. We introduce a new diagnostic for evaluating overfitting and underfitting in practice, and use it to roughly divide community detection methods into general and specialized learning algorithms. Across methods and inputs, Bayesian techniques based on the stochastic block model and a minimum description length approach to regularization represent the best general learning approach, but can be outperformed under specific circumstances. These results introduce both a theoretically principled approach to evaluate over and underfitting in models of network community structure and a realistic benchmark by which new methods may be evaluated and compared.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language Python
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