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Extracting Meaning From the Structure of Networks 31

Posted by timothy
from the which-outhouse-is-on-top dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Networks are used to represent the structure of complex systems, including the Internet or social networks, but often these descriptions are biased or incomplete. Now, researchers at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) have shown that it's possible to extract automatically the hierarchical structure of networks. The researchers say their results 'suggest that hierarchy is a central organizing principle of complex networks, capable of offering insight into many network phenomena.' They also think that their algorithms can be applied to almost every kind of networks, from biochemical networks (protein interaction networks, metabolic networks or genetic regulatory networks) to communities in social networks. But read more for additional references and some pictures about hierarchical networks and their applications."
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Extracting Meaning From the Structure of Networks

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can we have some real science please ?
    • by mrbluze (1034940)

      Can we have some real science please ?

      Let me see... *tap tap tap* .. hmmm...

      .. Computer says no I'm afraid.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by 2.7182 (819680)
      The parent is no troll! Yech this stuff is so silly. What are the applications that aren't "promised" for the future ? I am shocked that such vague nonsense of this is in the journal Nature.
      • "Yech this stuff is so silly. [snip] I am shocked that such vague nonsense of this is in the journal Nature."

        The thing we should all be 'shocked' by is the number of so called geeks who dismiss genuine science/math with nothing more than vauge handwaves and ad-homs. I think it might be connected to a general lack of understanding of scientific skepticisim [wikipedia.org] or perhaps it's just plain old arrogance.

        The novel finding in the paper is that they can use the properties of networks to automatically predict mis
      • Yes, the GP is not a troll, he's a karma whore. If Roland posts a science article, the whores will denounce it as fast as they can in expectation that they will get mode points, and those that actually read the article will support them later. The sad thing is that 9 times out of 10 the article really will be crap. But I don't see any problem with this work. It's not revolutionary, but I wouldn't by any means call it bad science.

        So, to the P&GP: enough with vague denunciations. If you have a problem

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @05:06PM (#23286422) Homepage

    As is typical of a Roland the Plogger article, there's no link to the original article, but there's a link to his ad-laden blog. Here's the abstract [nanounion.net]:

    Hierarchical structure and the prediction of missing links in networks
    Nature 453, 98 (2008). doi:10.1038/nature06830
    Authors: Aaron Clauset, Cristopher Moore & M. E. J. Newman
    Networks have in recent years emerged as an invaluable tool for describing and quantifying complex systems in many branches of science. Recent studies suggest that networks often exhibit hierarchical organization, in which vertices divide into groups that further subdivide into groups of groups, and so forth over multiple scales. In many cases the groups are found to correspond to known functional units, such as ecological niches in food webs, modules in biochemical networks (protein interaction networks, metabolic networks or genetic regulatory networks) or communities in social networks. Here we present a general technique for inferring hierarchical structure from network data and show that the existence of hierarchy can simultaneously explain and quantitatively reproduce many commonly observed topological properties of networks, such as right-skewed degree distributions, high clustering coefficients and short path lengths. We further show that knowledge of hierarchical structure can be used to predict missing connections in partly known networks with high accuracy, and for more general network structures than competing techniques. Taken together, our results suggest that hierarchy is a central organizing principle of complex networks, capable of offering insight into many network phenomena.

    So now, unlike Roland, we now have a clue what's being talked about. It's a scheme for finding some structure in networks and inferring what links might be missing.

    • by Winawer (935589)
      The article is full of links: to the Nature article webage, to the authors' homepages, and even to a link with a .PDF containing the article itself. Did you actually read the ZDNet article?
      • by Giloo (1008735)
        You must be new here...
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Winawer (935589)
          If by "new" you mean "I usually read the articles and don't comment often", then you're right. Are you trying to tell me that I did something wrong?
          • by Raenex (947668)
            It's just an old Slashdot joke. From Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]

            (Invoked frequently after a poster complains of a common Slashdot issue such as duplicate stories or perceived bias by certain editors)
            In this case, noting that people on Slashdot in general don't read the articles. Don't take it personally -- the joke isn't meant to be at your expense.
      • by Animats (122034)

        The problem is that the Slashdot article has links to places that get Roland the Plogger ad revenue, but doesn't have a link to the original paper. This is typical Roland the Plogger behavior.

        • by Winawer (935589)
          Fair enough. Given that he provided copious links to the original articles in his blog post and that he provided a reasonably thorough summary (for a journalist) of the work, I can't say that this really bothers me at all. However, as is clear, I'm not overly familiar with Slashdot etiquette, so I'll just take your word for it that it's a Bad Thing.
    • by jc42 (318812)

      We further show that knowledge of hierarchical structure can be used to predict missing connections in partly known networks with high accuracy, ...

      It's a scheme for ... inferring what links might be missing.

      And this is the point where any sensible person would get a distinct paranoid feeling. It's not hard to imagine how this might be misused.

      Thus, I have a large number of connections to other software developers. I also have a lot of connections to other musicians. I have a CS degree from the U of Wisc

      • "But we don't really live in a rational world, do we?"

        Parinoia is an ally of irrationality.

        Your argument boils down to "a tool can be used for good or evil", now since good and evil are subjective that reduces to "a tool can be used". Taken in the context of your post, this implies you are a Ludite but I don't think you are since a Ludite would not have the means to post on slashdot, ergo your post is irrational not the world.

        "It's not hard to imagine how this might be misused [by the US administra
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Roland Piquepaille writes
    No he doesn't, he copies and pastes.
  • Nature? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by ponraul (1233704)
    How did such a poorly written, presented and researched paper get into Nature? Is it April 1 again?
    • by cdw38 (1001587)
      Clauset, Newman, and Moore are three of the most respected and well-known networks researchers. I'm not sure what you mean by being poorly presented or researched; care to elaborate? But how this blog post makes the front page of /. is beyond me. It tells you absolutely NOTHING about the actual paper.
    • Thanks.

      I've having trouble seeing meat there, however. I.e., I haven't detected enough detail to tell me what to think about the generality of their claims.

      CAM
  • If Roland Piquepaille posts another gee-wiz article on Slashdot with only this first post, does anyone care?

  • I'm not a mathematician, so maybe one can answer this question? I know that I can take pretty much any open (e.g. not a ring) topology and document it in a hierarchical model. Heck, if I'm permitted just a few multiple paths, I can model pretty much any topology with a such a drawing. Think org charts in any large corporation. Abstraction is necessary for generalization, and models are absolutely necessary. Studying your model instead of your subject is a trap. The article presents a model for review;
  • Don't get me wrong I think it sounds like a great tool for abstracting complex systems into neat boxes for human consumption.

    I'm just imagining we'll have researchers wanting venture capital to create networks that can re-organise themselves simply by changing the hierarchy model used (perspective)
    The danger I see in this is people confusing the network in reality with a model of how we might perceive it, or perhaps of people being confused long enough to cough up the dough.

    or perhaps people thinking that t
  • Is it news that a lot of things are organized hierarchically? For one more hypothesized example, see Jeff Hawkins heirarchical temporal memory [wikipedia.org].

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