Bayesian Inference of Online Social Network Statistics via Lightweight Random Walk Crawls

Avrachenkov, Konstantin, Ribeiro, Bruno, Sreedharan, Jithin K. Machine Learning 

Online social networks (OSN) contain extensive amount of information about the underlying society that is yet to be explored. One of the most feasible technique to fetch information from OSN, crawling through Application Programming Interface (API) requests, poses serious concerns over the the guarantees of the estimates. In this work, we focus on making reliable statistical inference with limited API crawls. Based on regenerative properties of the random walks, we propose an unbiased estimator for the aggregated sum of functions over edges and proved the connection between variance of the estimator and spectral gap. In order to facilitate Bayesian inference on the true value of the estimator, we derive the approximate posterior distribution of the estimate. Later the proposed ideas are validated with numerical experiments on inference problems in real-world networks.