WSDM 2014 Accepted Paper
- Fast Estimation of Betweenness Centrality through Sampling
Matteo Riondato, Evgenios M. Kornaropoulos
Betweenness centrality is a fundamental measure in social network analysis, expressing the importance or influence of individual vertices in a network in terms of the fraction of shortest paths that pass through them. Exact computation in large networks is prohibitively expensive and fast approximation algorithms are required in these cases. We present two efficient randomized algorithms for betweenness estimation. The algorithms are based on random sampling of shortest paths and offer probabilistic guarantees on the quality of the approximation. The first algorithm estimates the betweenness of all vertices: all approximated values are within an additive factor ε from the real values, with probability at least 1 − δ. The second algorithm focuses on the top-K vertices with highest betweenness and approximate their betweenness within a multiplicative factor ε, with probability at least 1 − δ. This is the first algorithm that can compute such approximation for the top-K vertices. We use results from the VC-dimension theory to develop bounds to the sample size needed to achieve the desired approximations. By proving upper and lower bounds to the VC-dimension of a range set associated with the problem at hand, we obtain a sample size that is independent from the number of vertices in the net- work and only depends on a characteristic quantity that we call the vertex-diameter, that is the maximum number of vertices in a short- est path. In some cases, the sample size is completely independent from any property of the graph. The extensive experimental evaluation that we performed using real and artificial networks shows that our algorithms are significantly faster and much more scalable as the number of vertices in the network grows than previously presented algorithms with similar approximation guarantees.