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Significance-based community detection in weighted networks

John Palowitch, Shankar Bhamidi, Andrew B. Nobel; 18(188):1−48, 2018.


Community detection is the process of grouping strongly connected nodes in a network. Many community detection methods for un-weighted networks have a theoretical basis in a null model. Communities discovered by these methods therefore have interpretations in terms of statistical significance. In this paper, we introduce a null for weighted networks called the continuous configuration model. First, we propose a community extraction algorithm for weighted networks which incorporates iterative hypothesis testing under the null. We prove a central limit theorem for edge-weight sums and asymptotic consistency of the algorithm under a weighted stochastic block model. We then incorporate the algorithm in a community detection method called CCME. To benchmark the method, we provide a simulation framework involving the null to plant “background" nodes in weighted networks with communities. We show that the empirical performance of CCME on these simulations is competitive with existing methods, particularly when overlapping communities and background nodes are present. To further validate the method, we present two real-world networks with potential background nodes and analyze them with CCME, yielding results that reveal macro- features of the corresponding systems.

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