Analyzing communities and their evolutions in dynamic social networks

Yu Ru Lin, Yun Chi, Shenghuo Zhu, Hari Sundaram, Belle L. Tseng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We discover communities from social network data and analyze the community evolution. These communities are inherent characteristics of human interaction in online social networks, as well as paper citation networks. Also, communities may evolve over time, due to changes to individuals' roles and social status in the network as well as changes to individuals' research interests. We present an innovative algorithm that deviates from the traditional two-step approach to analyze community evolutions. In the traditional approach, communities are first detected for each time slice, and then compared to determine correspondences. We argue that this approach is inappropriate in applications with noisy data. In this paper, we propose FacetNet for analyzing communities and their evolutions through a robust unified process. This novel framework will discover communities and capture their evolution with temporal smoothness given by historic community structures. Our approach relies on formulating the problem in terms of maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation, where the community structure is estimated both by the observed networked data and by the prior distribution given by historic community structures. Then we develop an iterative algorithm, with proven low time complexity, which is guaranteed to converge to an optimal solution. We perform extensive experimental studies, on both synthetic datasets and real datasets, to demonstrate that our method discovers meaningful communities and provides additional insights not directly obtainable from traditional methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Community
  • Community net
  • Evolution
  • Evolution net
  • Nonnegative matrix factorization
  • Soft membership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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