Mathematical Foundations and Algorithms for Clique Relaxations in Networks



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This dissertation establishes mathematical foundations for the properties exhibited by generalizations of cliques, as well as algorithms to find such objects in a network. Cliques are a model of an ideal group with roots in social network analysis. They have since found applications as a part of grouping mechanisms in computer vision, coding theory, experimental design, genomics, economics, and telecommunications among other fields. Because only groups with ideal properties form a clique, they are often too restrictive for identifying groups in many real-world networks. This motivated the introduction of clique relaxations that preserve some of the various defining properties of cliques in relaxed form. There are six clique relaxations that are the focus of this dissertation: s-clique, s-club, s-plex, k-core, quasi-clique, and k-connected subgraphs. Since cliques have found applications in so many fields, research into these clique relaxations has the potential to steer the course of much future research.

The focus of this dissertation is on bringing organization and rigorous methodology to the formation and application of clique relaxations. We provide the first taxonomy focused on how the various clique relaxations relate on key structural properties demonstrated by groups. We also give a framework for how clique relaxations can be formed. This equips researchers with the ability to choose the appropriate clique relaxation for an application based on its structural properties, or, if an appropriate clique relaxation does not exist, form a new one.

In addition to identifying the structural properties of the various clique relaxations, we identify properties and prove propositions that are important computationally. These assist in creating algorithms to find a clique relaxation quickly as it is immersed in a network. We give the first ever analysis of the computational complexity of finding the maximum quasi-clique in a graph. Such analysis identifies for researchers the appropriate set of computational tools to solve the maximum quasiclique problem. We further create a polynomial time algorithm for identifying large 2-cliques within unit disk graphs, a special class of graphs often arising in communication networks. We prove the algorithm to have a guaranteed 1=2-approximation ratio and finish with computational results.