Group betweenness and co-betweenness: Inter-related notions of coalition centrality
Vertex betweenness centrality is a metric that seeks to quantify a sense of the importance of a vertex in a network in terms of its 'control' on the flow of information along geodesic paths throughout the network. Two natural ways to extend vertex betweenness centrality to sets of vertices are (i) in terms of geodesic paths that pass through at least one of the vertices in the set, and (ii) in terms of geodesic paths that pass through all vertices in the set. The former was introduced by
... and Borgatti [Everett, M., Borgatti, S., 1999. The centrality of groups and classes. Journal of Mathematical Sociology 23 (3), 181-201], and called group betweenness centrality. The latter, which we call co-betweenness centrality here, has not been considered formally in the literature until now, to the best of our knowledge. In this paper, we show that these two notions of centrality are in fact intimately related and, furthermore, that this relationship may be exploited to obtain deeper insight into both. In particular, we provide an expansion for group betweenness in terms of increasingly higher orders of co-betweenness, in a manner analogous to the Taylor series expansion of a mathematical function in calculus. We then demonstrate the utility of this expansion by using it to construct analytic lower and upper bounds for group betweenness that involve only simple combinations of (i) the betweenness of individual vertices in the group, and (ii) the co-betweenness of pairs of these vertices. Accordingly, we argue that the latter quantity, i.e., pairwise co-betweenness, is itself a fundamental quantity of some independent interest, and we present a computationally efficient algorithm for its calculation, which extends the algorithm of Brandes [Brandes, U., 2001 . A faster algorithm for betweenness centrality. Journal of Mathematical Sociology 25, 163] in a natural manner. Applications are provided throughout, using a handful of different communication networks, which serve to illustrate the way in which our mathematical contributions allow for insight to be gained into the interaction of network structure, coalitions, and information flow in social networks.