Evaluating Overfit and Underfit in Models of Network Community Structure

A common graph mining task is community detection, which seeks an unsupervised decomposition of a network into groups based on statistical regularities in network connectivity. Although many such algorithms exist, community detection's No Free Lunch theorem implies that no algorithm can be optimal across all inputs. However, little is known in practice about how different algorithms over or underfit to real networks, or how to reliably assess such behavior across algorithms. Here, we present a broad investigation of over and underfitting across 16 state-of-the-art community detection algorithms applied to a novel benchmark corpus of 572 structurally diverse real-world networks. We find that (i) algorithms vary widely in the number and composition of communities they find, given the same input; (ii) algorithms can be clustered into distinct high-level groups based on similarities of their outputs on real-world networks; (iii) algorithmic differences induce wide variation in accuracy on link-based learning tasks; and, (iv) no algorithm is always the best at such tasks across all inputs. Finally, we quantify each algorithm's overall tendency to over or underfit to network data using a theoretically principled diagnostic, and discuss the implications for future advances in community detection.
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