Community detection in networks via nonlinear modularity eigenvectors

Francesco Tudisco, Pedro Mercado, Matthias Hein

Revealing a community structure in a network or dataset is a central problem arising in many scientific areas. The modularity function $Q$ is an established measure quantifying the quality of a community, being identified as a set of nodes having high modularity. In our terminology, a set of nodes with positive modularity is called a \textit{module} and a set that maximizes $Q$ is thus called \textit{leading module}. Finding a leading module in a network is an important task, however the dimension of real-world problems makes the maximization of $Q$ unfeasible. This poses the need of approximation techniques which are typically based on a linear relaxation of $Q$, induced by the spectrum of the modularity matrix $M$. In this work we propose a nonlinear relaxation which is instead based on the spectrum of a nonlinear modularity operator $\mathcal M$. We show that extremal eigenvalues of $\mathcal M$ provide an exact relaxation of the modularity measure $Q$, however at the price of being more challenging to be computed than those of $M$. Thus we extend the work made on nonlinear Laplacians, by proposing a computational scheme, named \textit{generalized RatioDCA}, to address such extremal eigenvalues. We show monotonic ascent and convergence of the method. We finally apply the new method to several synthetic and real-world data sets, showing both effectiveness of the model and performance of the method.

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