# Random graphs with a given degree sequence

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1 Sourav Chatterjee (NYU) Persi Diaconis (Stanford) Allan Sly (Microsoft)

2 Let G be an undirected simple graph on n vertices. Let d 1,..., d n be the degrees of the vertices of G arranged in descending order. The vector d := (d 1,..., d n ) is called the degree sequence of G. Equivalently, one can consider the degree distribution, i.e. the probability measure that puts mass 1/n at each d i. Vast interest in degree distributions of real-world graphs in recent times. One approach: study graphs that are chosen uniformly from the set of all graphs on a given set of vertices with a given degree sequence. What does such a random graph look like? We give a rather precise answer to this question in the dense case, i.e. where the degrees are comparable to the number of vertices.

3 Some remarks Real world graphs are usually sparse; this is a gap between our theory and the practical situation. There is a closely related line of work due to Barvinok & Hartigan, with important similarities and differences (will come back to this later). There is intensive use of statistical methodology in our work, which is otherwise graph-theoretic in nature. Hence suitable for a statistical audience.

4 Towards a precise formulation of the question Let F n be a degree distribution for an n-vertex graph, normalized by n so that it is supported in [0, 1]. Let G n be a (uniformly chosen) random graph with degree distribution F n. Suppose that F n converges to a limit distribution F as n tends to infinity. What is the limit of G n? To answer this question, we need a theory of graph limits.

5 An abstract topological space of graphs Beautiful unifying theory developed by Lovász and coauthors (listed in order of frequency: V. T. Sós, B. Szegedy, C. Borgs, J. Chayes, K. Vesztergombi, A. Schrijver and M. Freedman). Related to earlier works of Aldous, Hoover, Kallenberg. Let G n be a sequence of simple graphs whose number of nodes tends to infinity. For every fixed simple graph H, let hom(h, G) denote the number of homomorphisms of H into G (i.e. edge-preserving maps V (H) V (G), where V (H) and V (G) are the vertex sets). This number is normalized to get the homomorphism density t(h, G) := hom(h, G). V (G) V (H) This gives the probability that a random mapping V (H) V (G) is a homomorphism.

6 Abstract space of graphs contd. Suppose that t(h, G n ) tends to a limit t(h) for every H. Then Lovász & Szegedy proved that there is a natural limit object in the form of a function f W, where W is the space of all measurable functions from [0, 1] 2 into [0, 1] that satisfy f (x, y) = f (y, x) for all x, y. Conversely, every such function arises as the limit of an appropriate graph sequence. This limit object determines all the limits of subgraph densities: if H is a simple graph with k vertices, then t(h, f ) = f (x i, x j ) dx 1 dx k. [0,1] k (i,j) E(H) A sequence of graphs {G n } n 1 is said to converge to f if for every finite simple graph H, lim t(h, G n) = t(h, f ). n

7 Example For any fixed graph H, t(h, G(n, p)) p E(H) almost surely as n. On the other hand, if f is the function that is identically equal to p, then t(h, f ) = p E(H). Thus, the sequence of random graphs G(n, p) converges almost surely to the non-random limit function f (x, y) p as n.

8 Abstract space of graphs contd. The elements of W are sometimes called graphons. A finite simple graph G on n vertices can also be represented as a graphon f G is a natural way: { f G 1 if ( nx, ny ) is an edge in G, (x, y) = 0 otherwise. Note that this allows all simple graphs, irrespective of the number of vertices, to be represented as elements of the single abstract space W. So, what is the topology on this space?

9 The cut metric For any f, g W, Frieze and Kannan defined the cut distance: d (f, g) := sup [f (x, y) g(x, y)]dxdy. S,T [0,1] S T Introduce an equivalence relation on W: say that f g if f (x, y) = g σ (x, y) := g(σx, σy) for some measure preserving bijection σ of [0, 1]. Denote by g the closure in (W, d ) of the orbit {g σ }. The quotient space is denoted by W and τ denotes the natural map g g. Since d is invariant under σ one can define on W the natural distance δ by δ ( f, g) := inf σ d (f, g σ ) = inf σ d (f σ, g) = inf σ 1,σ 2 d (f σ1, g σ2 ) making ( W, δ ) into a metric space.

10 Cut metric and graph limits To any finite graph G, we associate the natural graphon f G and its orbit G = τf G = f G W. One of the key results of the is the following: Theorem (Borgs, Chayes, Lovász, Sós & Vesztergombi) A sequence of graphs {G n } n 1 converges to a limit f W if and only if δ ( G n, f ) 0 as n. Remark: Besides subgraph counts, many other interesting functions are continuous with respect to this topology, e.g. see the survey by Austin & Tao.

11 Scaling limit of degree sequences Suppose that for each n, a degree sequence d n = (d n 1,..., d n n ) is given, where d n 1 d n 2 d n n. Suppose that there is a non-increasing function f on [0, 1] such that 1 n lim d n ( ) i i n n n f = 0, n i=1 and d n 1 /n f (0), d n n /n f (1). The first condition is equivalent to: D n /n f (U) in distribution, where D n is a randomly (uniformly) chosen di n and U is uniformly distributed on [0, 1]. The need to control d n 1 and d n n arises from the need to eliminate outlier vertices that connect to almost all nodes or almost no nodes.

12 The space of scaling limits of degree sequences Let D [0, 1] denote the set of all left-continuous non-increasing functions on [0, 1], endowed with the topology induced by a modified L 1 norm: f 1 := f (0) + f (1) f (x) dx. The set of all possible scaling limits of degree sequences is a subset of D [0, 1]. Let F denote this set. Then F is a closed subset of D [0, 1] under the modified L 1 norm. Moreover, F has non-empty interior, and the interior can be described in an explicit form.

13 The interior of F From previous slide: F is the space of all possible scaling limits of degree sequences, carrying the topology of the modified L 1 norm. Proposition (Chatterjee-Diaconis-Sly) A function f : [0, 1] [0, 1] in D [0, 1] belongs to the interior of F if and only if (i) there are two constants c 1 > 0 and c 2 < 1 such that c 1 f (x) c 2 for all x [0, 1], and (ii) for each x (0, 1], 1 x x min{f (y), x}dy + x 2 f (y)dy > 0. 0

14 Connection with the Erdős-Gallai criterion Suppose d 1 d 2 d n are nonnegative integers. The Erdős-Gallai criterion says that d 1,..., d n is the degree sequence of a simple graph on n vertices if and only if n i=1 d i is even and for each 1 k n, k(k 1) + n i=k+1 min{d i, k} k d i 0. A degree sequence is in the interior of the convex hull of all possible length-n degree sequences if and only if strict inequality holds for all k. The Proposition in the previous slide is a limiting version of the Erdős-Gallai criterion. i=1

15 The main theorem Theorem (Chatterjee-Diaconis-Sly) Let G n be a random graph with given degree sequence d n. Suppose d n converges to a scaling limit f and suppose that f belongs to the interior of F. Then there exists a unique function g : [0, 1] R in D [0, 1] such that the function satisfies, for all x [0, 1], W (x, y) := f (x) = 1 0 eg(x)+g(y) 1 + e g(x)+g(y), W (x, y)dy. The sequence {G n } converges almost surely to the limit graph represented by the function W.

16 A statistical model Given β = (β 1,..., β n ) R n, let P β be the law of the undirected random graph on n vertices defined as follows: for each 1 i j n, put an edge between the vertices i and j with probability p ij := eβ i +β j 1 + e β, i +β j independently of all other edges. We call this the β-model. Then if G is a graph with degree sequence d 1,..., d n, the probability of observing G under P β is e P i β i d i / i<j (1 + eβ i +β j ). This model was considered by Holland & Lienhardt in the directed case, by Park & Newman and Blitzstein & Diaconis in the undirected case. Similar to the Bradley-Terry model for rankings. See Hunter (2004) for extensive references. It is also a simple version of a host of exponential models actively in use for analyzing network data.

17 Connection with our problem and a sketch of the proof Suppose G is a random graph with given a degree sequence d. Step 1: If we can find a well-behaved β such that the d is the expected degree sequence under the β-model, then a random graph drawn from the β-model is close to G in the cut metric with high probability. Step 2: If d is away from the boundary of the Erdős-Gallai polytope, then there exists such a β. Step 3: The β-model approximates the graph limit described in our main theorem if n is large. The proofs of all three steps are quite involved. In a sequence of papers produced at the same time as our work, Barvinok & Hartigan established Steps 1 and 3, although in a different language. We work out all three steps. On the other hand, the Barvinok-Hartigan results give finite sample error bounds and very precise asymptotics, while we only have limit theorems.

18 Maximum likelihood estimation in the β-model Suppose a random graph G is generated from the β-model, where β R n is unknown. The ML equations for β are: d i = j i e ˆβ i + ˆβ j 1 + e ˆβ i + ˆβ j, i = 1,..., n, where d 1,..., d n are the degrees in the observed graph G. Theorem (Chatterjee-Diaconis-Sly) Let L := max 1 i n β i. There is a constant C(L) depending only on L such that with probability at least 1 C(L)n 2, there exists a unique solution ˆβ of the ML equations, that satisfies max ˆβ i β i C(L) n 1 log n. 1 i n Thus, all n parameters may be estimated from a sample of size one!

19 Some remarks Similar consistency result for the Bradley-Terry model due to Simons & Yao (1999). Possible to get such a result because there are n(n 1)/2 independent random variables lurking in the background. Question: Is it possible to solve the ML equations quickly and deterministically? Answer: Yes, we have an easy algorithm. The algorithm is actually an important component of the proofs of the graph limit theorem and the consistency theorem.

20 The algorithm Let d 1,..., d n be the degrees in a particular realization of a random graph from a β-model. For 1 i n and x R n, let ϕ i (x) := log d i log j i 1 e x j + e x i. Let ϕ : R n R n be the function whose ith component is ϕ i. Theorem (Chatterjee-Diaconis-Sly) Suppose the ML equations have a solution ˆβ. Then ˆβ is a fixed point of ϕ and may be reached geometrically fast from any point in R n by iterative applications of ϕ. If the ML equations do not have a solution, then the iterates must have a divergent subsequence.

21 Simulation results Plot of ˆβ i versus β i for a graph with 100 vertices, where β 1,..., β n were chosen i.i.d. Unif [ 1, 1].

22 Simulations with a larger graph Plot of ˆβ i versus β i for a graph with 300 vertices, where β 1,..., β n were chosen i.i.d. Unif [ 1, 1]. The increased accuracy for larger n is clearly visible.

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