Xu, Zenglin (Purdue University) | Yan, Feng (Purdue University) | Qi, Yuan (Purdue University)

We consider the problem of modeling network interactions and identifying latent groups of network nodes. This problem is challenging due to the facts i) that the network nodes are interdependent instead of independent, ii) that the network data are very noisy (e.g., missing edges), and iii) that the network interactions are often sparse. To address these challenges, we propose a Sparse Matrix-variate t process Blockmodel (SMTB). In particular, we generalize a matrix-variate t distribution to a t process on matrices with nonlinear covariance functions. Due to this generalization, our model can estimate latent memberships for individual network nodes. This separates our model from previous t distribution based relational models. Also, we introduce sparse prior distributions on the latent membership parameters to select group assignments for individual nodes. To learn the model efficiently from data, we develop a variational method. When compared with several state-of-the-art models, including the predictive matrix-variate t models and mixed membership stochastic blockmodels, our model achieved improved prediction accuracy on real world network datasets.

Mehta, Nikhil, Carin, Lawrence, Rai, Piyush

Stochastic blockmodels (SBM) and their variants, $e.g.$, mixed-membership and overlapping stochastic blockmodels, are latent variable based generative models for graphs. They have proven to be successful for various tasks, such as discovering the community structure and link prediction on graph-structured data. Recently, graph neural networks, $e.g.$, graph convolutional networks, have also emerged as a promising approach to learn powerful representations (embeddings) for the nodes in the graph, by exploiting graph properties such as locality and invariance. In this work, we unify these two directions by developing a \emph{sparse} variational autoencoder for graphs, that retains the interpretability of SBMs, while also enjoying the excellent predictive performance of graph neural nets. Moreover, our framework is accompanied by a fast recognition model that enables fast inference of the node embeddings (which are of independent interest for inference in SBM and its variants). Although we develop this framework for a particular type of SBM, namely the \emph{overlapping} stochastic blockmodel, the proposed framework can be adapted readily for other types of SBMs. Experimental results on several benchmarks demonstrate encouraging results on link prediction while learning an interpretable latent structure that can be used for community discovery.

Collective classification models attempt to improve classification performance by taking into account the class labels of related instances. However, they tend not to learn patterns of interactions between classes and/or make the assumption that instances of the same class link to each other (assortativity assumption). Blockmodels provide a solution to these issues, being capable of modelling assortative and disassortative interactions, and learning the pattern of interactions in the form of a summary network. The Supervised Blockmodel provides good classification performance using link structure alone, whilst simultaneously providing an interpretable summary of network interactions to allow a better understanding of the data. This work explores three variants of supervised blockmodels of varying complexity and tests them on four structurally different real world networks.

Cole, Guy W., Williamson, Sinead A.

Stochastic blockmodels allow us to represent networks in terms of a latent community structure, often yielding intuitions about the underlying social structure. Typically, this structure is inferred based only on a binary network representing the presence or absence of interactions between nodes, which limits the amount of information that can be extracted from the data. In practice, many interaction networks contain much more information about the relationship between two nodes. For example, in an email network, the volume of communication between two users and the content of that communication can give us information about both the strength and the nature of their relationship. In this paper, we propose the Topic Blockmodel, a stochastic blockmodel that uses a count-based topic model to capture the interaction modalities within and between latent communities. By explicitly incorporating information sent between nodes in our network representation, we are able to address questions of interest in real-world situations, such as predicting recipients for an email message or inferring the content of an unopened email. Further, by considering topics associated with a pair of communities, we are better able to interpret the nature of each community and the manner in which it interacts with other communities.

Correa, Oscar, Chan, Jeffrey, Nguyen, Vinh

Many approaches have been proposed to discover clusters within networks. Community finding field encompasses approaches which try to discover clusters where nodes are tightly related within them but loosely related with nodes of other clusters. However, a community network configuration is not the only possible latent structure in a graph. Core-periphery and hierarchical network configurations are valid structures to discover in a relational dataset. On the other hand, a network is not completely explained by only knowing the membership of each node. A high level view of the inter-cluster relationships is needed. Blockmodelling techniques deal with these two issues. Firstly, blockmodelling allows finding any network configuration besides to the well-known community structure. Secondly, blockmodelling is a summary representation of a network which regards not only membership of nodes but also relations between clusters. Finally, a unique summary representation of a network is unlikely. Networks might hide more than one blockmodel. Therefore, our proposed problem aims to discover a secondary blockmodel representation of a network that is of good quality and dissimilar with respect to a given blockmodel. Our methodology is presented through two approaches, (a) inclusion of cannot-link constraints and (b) dissimilarity between image matrices. Both approaches are based on non-negative matrix factorisation NMF which fits the blockmodelling representation. The evaluation of these two approaches regards quality and dissimilarity of the discovered alternative blockmodel as these are the requirements of the problem.