Semi-supervised stochastic blockmodel for structure analysis of signed networks

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Journal Article
Knowledge-Based Systems, 2020
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© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Finding hidden structural patterns is a critical problem for all types of networks, including signed networks. Among all of the methods for structural analysis of complex network, stochastic blockmodel (SBM) is an important research tool because it is flexible and can generate networks with many different types of structures. However, most existing SBM learning methods for signed networks are unsupervised, leading to poor performance in terms of finding hidden structural patterns, especially when handling noisy and sparse networks. Learning SBM in a semi-supervised way is a promising avenue for overcoming the above difficulty. In this type of model, a small number of labelled nodes and a large number of unlabelled nodes, coupled with their network structures, are simultaneously used to train SBM. We propose a novel semi-supervised signed stochastic blockmodel and its learning algorithm based on variational Bayesian inference, with the goal of discovering both assortative (the nodes connect more densely in same clusters than that in different clusters) and disassortative (the nodes link more sparsely in same clusters than that in different clusters) structures from signed networks. The proposed model is validated through a number of experiments wherein it compared with the state-of-the-art methods using both synthetic and real-world data. The carefully designed tests, allowing to account for different scenarios, show our method outperforms other approaches existing in this space. It is especially relevant in the case of noisy and sparse networks as they constitute the majority of the real-world networks.
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