Comparison of large networks with sub-sampling strategies

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  • Authors:
  • Waqar Ali
  • Anatol Wegner
  • Robert Gaunt
  • Charlotte Deane
  • Gesine Reinert


Networks are routinely used to represent large data sets, making the comparison of networks a tantalizing research question in many areas. Techniques for such analysis vary from simply comparing network summary statistics to sophisticated but computationally expensive alignment-based approaches. Most existing methods either do not generalize well to different types of networks or do not provide a quantitative similarity score between networks. In contrast, alignment-free topology based network similarity scores empower us to analyse large sets of networks containing different types and sizes of data. Netdis is such a score that defines network similarity through the counts of small sub-graphs in the local neighbourhood of all nodes. Here, we introduce a sub-sampling procedure based on neighbourhoods which links naturally with the framework of network comparisons through local neighbourhood comparisons. Our theoretical arguments justify basing the Netdis statistic on a sample of similar-sized neighbourhoods. Our tests on empirical and synthetic datasets indicate that often only 10% of the neighbourhoods of a network suffice for optimal performance, leading to a drastic reduction in computational requirements. The sampling procedure is applicable even when only a small sample of the network is known, and thus provides a novel tool for network comparison of very large and potentially incomplete datasets.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number28955
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 6 Jul 2016