Local Graph Stability in Exponential Family Random Graph Models [article]

Yue Yu, Gianmarc Grazioli, Nolan E. Phillips, Carter T. Butts
2019 arXiv   pre-print
Exponential family Random Graph Models (ERGMs) can be viewed as expressing a probability distribution on graphs arising from the action of competing social forces that make ties more or less likely, depending on the state of the rest of the graph. Such forces often lead to a complex pattern of dependence among edges, with non-trivial large-scale structures emerging from relatively simple local mechanisms. While this provides a powerful tool for probing macro-micro connections, much remains to
more » ... understood about how local forces shape global outcomes. One simple question of this type is that of the conditions needed for social forces to stabilize a particular structure. We refer to this property as local stability and seek a general means of identifying the set of parameters under which a target graph is locally stable with respect to a set of alternatives. Here, we provide a complete characterization of the region of the parameter space inducing local stability, showing it to be the interior of a convex cone whose faces can be derived from the change-scores of the sufficient statistics vis-a-vis the alternative structures. As we show, local stability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for more general notions of stability, the latter of which can be explored more efficiently by using the "stable cone" within the parameter space as a starting point. In addition, we show how local stability can be used to determine whether a fitted model implies that an observed structure would be expected to arise primarily from the action of social forces, versus by merit of the model permitting a large number of high probability structures, of which the observed structure is one. We also use our approach to identify the dyads within a given structure that are the least stable, and hence predicted to have the highest probability of changing over time.
arXiv:1908.09470v1 fatcat:mdk5qy4duza6vpk7vl5q5opf6i