Covariate-assisted spectral clustering

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Abstract

Biological and social systems consist of myriad interacting units. The interactions can be represented in the form of a graph or network. Measurements of these graphs can reveal the underlying structure of these interactions, which provides insight into the systems that generated the graphs. Moreover, in applications such as connectomics, social networks, and genomics, graph data are accompanied by contextualizing measures on each node. We utilize these node covariates to help uncover latent communities in a graph, using a modification of spectral clustering. Statistical guarantees are provided under a joint mixture model that we call the node-contextualized stochastic blockmodel, including a bound on the misclustering rate. The bound is used to derive conditions for achieving perfect clustering. For most simulated cases, covariate-assisted spectral clustering yields results superior both to regularized spectral clustering without node covariates and to an adaptation of canonical correlation analysis. We apply our clustering method to large brain graphs derived from diffusion MRI data, using the node locations or neurological region membership as covariates. In both cases, covariate-assisted spectral clustering yields clusters that are easier to interpret neurologically.

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