Exploring statistical and population aspects of network complexity

Frank Emmert-Streib, Matthias Dehmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The characterization and the definition of the complexity of objects is an important but very difficult problem that attracted much interest in many different fields. In this paper we introduce a new measure, called network diversity score (NDS), which allows us to quantify structural properties of networks. We demonstrate numerically that our diversity score is capable of distinguishing ordered, random and complex networks from each other and, hence, allowing us to categorize networks with respect to their structural complexity. We study 16 additional network complexity measures and find that none of these measures has similar good categorization capabilities. In contrast to many other measures suggested so far aiming for a characterization of the structural complexity of networks, our score is different for a variety of reasons. First, our score is multiplicatively composed of four individual scores, each assessing different structural properties of a network. That means our composite score reflects the structural diversity of a network. Second, our score is defined for a population of networks instead of individual networks. We will show that this removes an unwanted ambiguity, inherently present in measures that are based on single networks. In order to apply our measure practically, we provide a statistical estimator for the diversity score, which is based on a finite number of samples.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere34523
Pages (from-to)e34523
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 08 May 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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