The Annals of Applied Statistics

Overlapping stochastic block models with application to the French political blogosphere

Pierre Latouche, Etienne Birmelé, and Christophe Ambroise

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Complex systems in nature and in society are often represented as networks, describing the rich set of interactions between objects of interest. Many deterministic and probabilistic clustering methods have been developed to analyze such structures. Given a network, almost all of them partition the vertices into disjoint clusters, according to their connection profile. However, recent studies have shown that these techniques were too restrictive and that most of the existing networks contained overlapping clusters. To tackle this issue, we present in this paper the Overlapping Stochastic Block Model. Our approach allows the vertices to belong to multiple clusters, and, to some extent, generalizes the well-known Stochastic Block Model [Nowicki and Snijders (2001)]. We show that the model is generically identifiable within classes of equivalence and we propose an approximate inference procedure, based on global and local variational techniques. Using toy data sets as well as the French Political Blogosphere network and the transcriptional network of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we compare our work with other approaches.

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Ann. Appl. Stat. Volume 5, Number 1 (2011), 309-336.

First available in Project Euclid: 21 March 2011

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Random graph models blockmodels overlapping clusters global and local variational techniques


Latouche, Pierre; Birmelé, Etienne; Ambroise, Christophe. Overlapping stochastic block models with application to the French political blogosphere. Ann. Appl. Stat. 5 (2011), no. 1, 309--336. doi:10.1214/10-AOAS382.

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