Sampling from Social Networks with Attributes

WWW'17 Conf. DOI: 10.1145/3038912.3052665

10 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2017

See all articles by Claudia Wagner

Claudia Wagner

University of Koblenz-Landau

Philipp Singer

Graz University of Technology

Fariba Karimi

GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Jürgen Pfeffer

Technische Universität München (TUM)

Markus Strohmaier

University of Koblenz-Landau

Date Written: October 27, 2017

Abstract

Sampling from large networks represents a fundamental challenge for social network research. In this paper, we explore the sensitivity of different sampling techniques (node sampling, edge sampling, random walk sampling, and snowball sampling) on social networks with attributes.

We consider the special case of networks:

(i) where we have one attribute with two values (e.g., male and female in the case of gender),

(ii) where the size of the two groups is unequal (e.g., a male majority and a female minority), and

(iii) where nodes with the same or different attribute value attract or repel each other (i.e., homophilic or heterophilic behavior).

We evaluate the different sampling techniques with respect to conserving the position of nodes and the visibility of groups in such networks. Experiments are conducted both on synthetic and empirical social networks. Our results provide evidence that different network sampling techniques are highly sensitive with regard to capturing the expected centrality of nodes, and that their accuracy depends on relative group size differences and on the level of homophily that can be observed in the network. We conclude that uninformed sampling from social networks with attributes thus can significantly impair the ability of researchers to draw valid conclusions about the centrality of nodes and the visibility or invisibility of groups in social networks.

Keywords: social networks, sampling, homophily

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Claudia and Singer, Philipp and Karimi, Fariba and Pfeffer, Jürgen and Strohmaier, Markus, Sampling from Social Networks with Attributes (October 27, 2017). WWW'17 Conf. DOI: 10.1145/3038912.3052665, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3060274

Claudia Wagner

University of Koblenz-Landau ( email )

56070 Koblenz-Metternich
Germany

Philipp Singer

Graz University of Technology ( email )

Kopernikusgasse 24/IV
Graz University of Technology,
GRAZ, STYRIA A-8010
Austria

Fariba Karimi (Contact Author)

GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences ( email )

Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
Cologne, 50667
Germany

Jürgen Pfeffer

Technische Universität München (TUM) ( email )

Arcisstrasse 21
Munich, DE 80333
Germany

Markus Strohmaier

University of Koblenz-Landau ( email )

56070 Koblenz-Metternich
Germany

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