在网络中发现社区(称为社区检测/发现)是网络科学中的一个基本问题,在过去的几十年中引起了很多关注。 近年来,随着对大数据的大量研究,另一个相关但又不同的问题(称为社区搜索)旨在寻找包含查询节点的最有可能的社区,这已引起了学术界和工业界的广泛关注,它是社区检测问题的依赖查询的变体。

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Community detection is one of the most important methodological fields of network science, and one which has attracted a significant amount of attention over the past decades. This area deals with the automated division of a network into fundamental building blocks, with the objective of providing a summary of its large-scale structure. Despite its importance and widespread adoption, there is a noticeable gap between what is considered the state-of-the-art and the methods that are actually used in practice in a variety of fields. Here we attempt to address this discrepancy by dividing existing methods according to whether they have a "descriptive" or an "inferential" goal. While descriptive methods find patterns in networks based on intuitive notions of community structure, inferential methods articulate a precise generative model, and attempt to fit it to data. In this way, they are able to provide insights into the mechanisms of network formation, and separate structure from randomness in a manner supported by statistical evidence. We review how employing descriptive methods with inferential aims is riddled with pitfalls and misleading answers, and thus should be in general avoided. We argue that inferential methods are more typically aligned with clearer scientific questions, yield more robust results, and should be in general preferred. We attempt to dispel some myths and half-truths often believed when community detection is employed in practice, in an effort to improve both the use of such methods as well as the interpretation of their results.

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Community detection is one of the most important methodological fields of network science, and one which has attracted a significant amount of attention over the past decades. This area deals with the automated division of a network into fundamental building blocks, with the objective of providing a summary of its large-scale structure. Despite its importance and widespread adoption, there is a noticeable gap between what is considered the state-of-the-art and the methods that are actually used in practice in a variety of fields. Here we attempt to address this discrepancy by dividing existing methods according to whether they have a "descriptive" or an "inferential" goal. While descriptive methods find patterns in networks based on intuitive notions of community structure, inferential methods articulate a precise generative model, and attempt to fit it to data. In this way, they are able to provide insights into the mechanisms of network formation, and separate structure from randomness in a manner supported by statistical evidence. We review how employing descriptive methods with inferential aims is riddled with pitfalls and misleading answers, and thus should be in general avoided. We argue that inferential methods are more typically aligned with clearer scientific questions, yield more robust results, and should be in general preferred. We attempt to dispel some myths and half-truths often believed when community detection is employed in practice, in an effort to improve both the use of such methods as well as the interpretation of their results.

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