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Sampling random graph homomorphisms and applications to network data analysis

Hanbaek Lyu, Facundo Memoli, David Sivakoff; 24(9):1−79, 2023.


A graph homomorphism is a map between two graphs that preserves adjacency relations. We consider the problem of sampling a random graph homomorphism from a graph into a large network. We propose two complementary MCMC algorithms for sampling random graph homomorphisms and establish bounds on their mixing times and the concentration of their time averages. Based on our sampling algorithms, we propose a novel framework for network data analysis that circumvents some of the drawbacks in methods based on independent and neighborhood sampling. Various time averages of the MCMC trajectory give us various computable observables, including well-known ones such as homomorphism density and average clustering coefficient and their generalizations. Furthermore, we show that these network observables are stable with respect to a suitably renormalized cut distance between networks. We provide various examples and simulations demonstrating our framework through synthetic networks. We also \commHL{demonstrate the performance of} our framework on the tasks of network clustering and subgraph classification on the Facebook100 dataset and on Word Adjacency Networks of a set of classic novels.

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