Measuring the shape of degree distributions

Jennifer Badham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Degree distribution is a fundamental property of networks. While mean degree provides a standard measure of scale, there are several commonly used shape measures. Widespread use of a single shape measure would enable comparisons between networks and facilitate investigations about the relationship between degree distribution properties and other network features. This paper describes five candidate measures of heterogeneity and recommends the Gini coefficient. It has theoretical advantages over many of the previously proposed measures, is meaningful for the broad range of distribution shapes seen in different types of networks, and has several accessible interpretations. While this paper focusses on degree, the distribution of other node based network properties could also be described with Gini coefficients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-225
Number of pages13
JournalNetwork Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • degree distribution
  • Heterogeneity
  • Centralization
  • Gini coefficient


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