We consider the problem of inferring meaningful spatial information in networks from incomplete information on the connection intensity between the nodes of the network. We consider two spatially distributed networks: a population migration flow network within the US, and a network of mobile phone calls between cities in Belgium. For both networks we use the eigenvectors of the Laplacian matrix constructed from the link intensities to obtain informative visualizations and capture natural geographical subdivisions. We observe that some low-order eigenvectors localize very well and seem to reveal small geographically cohesive regions that match remarkably well with political and administrative boundaries. We discuss possible explanations for this observation by describing diffusion maps and localized eigenfunctions. In addition, we discuss a possible connection with the weighted graph cut problem, and provide numerical evidence supporting the idea that lower-order eigenvectors point out local cuts in the network. However, we do not provide a formal and rigorous justification for our observations.
Extracting spatial information from networks with low-order eigenvectors
Mihai Cucuringu, Vincent D. Blondel and Paul Van Dooren
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