Student Seminar Series: Yuan Zhang, Annual Report, "Detecting Overlapping Communities in Networks with Spectral Methods"
Community detection is a fundamental problem in network analysis. In practice, it often occurs that the communities overlap, which makes the problem more challenging. Here we propose a general, flexible, and interpretable generative model for overlapping communities, which can be thought of as a generalization of the degree-corrected stochastic block model. We develop an efficient spectral algorithm for estimating the community memberships, which deals with the overlaps by employing the K-medians algorithm rather than the usual K-means for clustering in the spectral domain. We show that the algorithm is asymptotically consistent when networks are not too sparse and the overlaps between communities not too large. Numerical experiments on both simulated networks and many real social networks demonstrate that our method performs very well compared to a number of benchmark methods for overlapping community detection.