Real-Time Community Detection in Full Social Networks on a Laptop


For a broad range of research, governmental and commercial applications it is important to understand the allegiances, communities and structure of key players in society. One promising direction towards extracting this information is to exploit the rich relational data in digital social networks (the social graph). As social media data sets are very large, most approaches make use of distributed computing systems for this purpose. Distributing graph processing requires solving many difficult engineering problems, which has lead some researchers to look at single-machine solutions that are faster and easier to maintain. In this article, we present a single-machine real-time system for large-scale graph processing that allows analysts to interactively explore graph structures. The key idea is that the aggregate actions of large numbers of users can be compressed into a data structure that encapsulates user similarities while being robust to noise and queryable in real-time. We achieve single machine real-time performance by compressing the neighbourhood of each vertex using minhash signatures and facilitate rapid queries through Locality Sensitive Hashing. These techniques reduce query times from hours using industrial desktop machines operating on the full graph to milliseconds on standard laptops. Our method allows exploration of strongly associated regions (i.e. communities) of large graphs in real-time on a laptop. It has been deployed in software that is actively used by social network analysts and offers another channel for media owners to monetise their data, helping them to continue to provide free services that are valued by billions of people globally.