Network constraints on the mixing patterns of binary node metadata

Matteo Cinelli*, Leto Peel, Antonio Iovanella, Jean-Charles Delvenne

*Corresponding author for this work

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We consider the network constraints on the bounds of the assortativity coefficient, which aims to quantify the tendency of nodes with the same attribute values to be connected. The assortativity coefficient can be considered as the Pearson's correlation coefficient of node metadata values across network edges and lies in the interval [-1, 1]. However, properties of the network, such as degree distribution and the distribution of node metadata values, place constraints upon the attainable values of the assortativity coefficient. This is important as a particular value of assortativity may say as much about the network topology as about how the metadata are distributed over the network-a fact often overlooked in literature where the interpretation tends to focus simply on the propensity of similar nodes to link to each other, without any regard on the constraints posed by the topology. In this paper we quantify the effect that the topology has on the assortativity coefficient in the case of binary node metadata. Specifically, we look at the effect that the degree distribution, or the full topology, and the proportion of each metadata value has on the extremal values of the assortativity coefficient. We provide the means for obtaining bounds on the extremal values of assortativity for different settings and demonstrate that under certain conditions the maximum and minimum values of assortativity are severely limited, which may present issues in interpretation when these bounds are not considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062310
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2020




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