Sublinear Time Estimation of Degree Distribution Moments: The Degeneracy Connection

Authors Talya Eden, Dana Ron, C. Seshadhri

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Talya Eden
Dana Ron
C. Seshadhri

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Talya Eden, Dana Ron, and C. Seshadhri. Sublinear Time Estimation of Degree Distribution Moments: The Degeneracy Connection. In 44th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2017). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 80, pp. 7:1-7:13, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2017)


We revisit the classic problem of estimating the degree distribution moments of an undirected graph. Consider an undirected graph G=(V,E) with n (non-isolated) vertices, and define (for s > 0) mu_s = 1\n * sum_{v in V} d^s_v. Our aim is to estimate mu_s within a multiplicative error of (1+epsilon) (for a given approximation parameter epsilon>0) in sublinear time. We consider the sparse graph model that allows access to: uniform random vertices, queries for the degree of any vertex, and queries for a neighbor of any vertex. For the case of s=1 (the average degree), \widetilde{O}(\sqrt{n}) queries suffice for any constant epsilon (Feige, SICOMP 06 and Goldreich-Ron, RSA 08). Gonen-Ron-Shavitt (SIDMA 11) extended this result to all integral s > 0, by designing an algorithms that performs \widetilde{O}(n^{1-1/(s+1)}) queries. (Strictly speaking, their algorithm approximates the number of star-subgraphs of a given size, but a slight modification gives an algorithm for moments.) We design a new, significantly simpler algorithm for this problem. In the worst-case, it exactly matches the bounds of Gonen-Ron-Shavitt, and has a much simpler proof. More importantly, the running time of this algorithm is connected to the degeneracy of G. This is (essentially) the maximum density of an induced subgraph. For the family of graphs with degeneracy at most alpha, it has a query complexity of widetilde{O}\left(\frac{n^{1-1/s}}{\mu^{1/s}_s} \Big(\alpha^{1/s} + \min\{\alpha,\mu^{1/s}_s\}\Big)\right) = \widetilde{O}(n^{1-1/s}\alpha/\mu^{1/s}_s). Thus, for the class of bounded degeneracy graphs (which includes all minor closed families and preferential attachment graphs), we can estimate the average degree in \widetilde{O}(1) queries, and can estimate the variance of the degree distribution in \widetilde{O}(\sqrt{n}) queries. This is a major improvement over the previous worst-case bounds. Our key insight is in designing an estimator for mu_s that has low variance when G does not have large dense subgraphs.
  • Sublinear algorithms
  • Degree distribution
  • Graph moments


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