Optimal Sampling and Clustering in the Stochastic Block Model

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Se-Young Yun, Alexandre Proutiere


This paper investigates the design of joint adaptive sampling and clustering algorithms in networks whose structure follows the celebrated Stochastic Block Model (SBM). To extract hidden clusters, the interaction between edges (pairs of nodes) may be sampled sequentially, in an adaptive manner. After gathering samples, the learner returns cluster estimates. We derive information-theoretical upper bounds on the cluster recovery rate. These bounds actually reveal the optimal sequential edge sampling strategy, and interestingly, the latter does not depend on the sampling budget, but on the parameters of the SBM only. We devise a joint sampling and clustering algorithm matching the recovery rate upper bounds. The algorithm initially uses a fraction of the sampling budget to estimate the SBM parameters, and to learn the optimal sampling strategy. This strategy then guides the remaining sampling process, which confers the optimality of the algorithm. We show both analytically and numerically that adaptive edge sampling yields important improvements over random sampling (traditionally used in the SBM analysis). For example, we prove that adaptive sampling significantly enlarges the region of the SBM parameters where asymptotically exact cluster recovery is feasible.