A Statistical Density-Based Analysis of Graph Clustering Algorithm Performance

Pierre Miasnikof, Alexander Y. Shestopaloff, Anthony J. Bonner, Yuri Lawryshyn, Panos M. Pardalos

Measuring graph clustering quality remains an open problem. To address it, we introduce quality measures based on comparisons of intra- and inter-cluster densities, an accompanying statistical test of the significance of their differences and a step-by-step routine for clustering quality assessment. Our null hypothesis does not rely on any generative model for the graph, unlike modularity which uses the configuration model as a null model. Our measures are shown to meet the axioms of a good clustering quality function, unlike the very commonly used modularity measure. They also have an intuitive graph-theoretic interpretation, a formal statistical interpretation and can be easily tested for significance. Our work is centered on the idea that well clustered graphs will display a significantly larger intra-cluster density than inter-cluster density. We develop tests to validate the existence of such a cluster structure. We empirically explore the behavior of our measures under a number of stress test scenarios and compare their behavior to the commonly used modularity and conductance measures. Empirical stress test results confirm that our measures compare very favorably to the established ones. In particular, they are shown to be more responsive to graph structure and less sensitive to sample size and breakdowns during numerical implementation and less sensitive to uncertainty in connectivity. These features are especially important in the context of larger data sets or when the data may contain errors in the connectivity patterns.

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