Efficient and exact sampling of simple graphs with given arbitrary degree sequence

Authors: 
Charo I. Del Genio, Hyunju Kim, Zoltán Toroczkai, Kevin E. Bassler
Citation: 
PloS one 5.4 (2010): e10012.
Publication Date: 
April, 2010

Uniform sampling from graphical realizations of a given degree sequence is a fundamental component in simulation-based measurements of network observables, with applications ranging from epidemics, through social networks to Internet modeling. Existing graph sampling methods are either link-swap based (Markov-Chain Monte Carlo algorithms) or stub-matching based (the Configuration Model). Both types are ill-controlled, with typically unknown mixing times for link-swap methods and uncontrolled rejections for the Configuration Model. Here we propose an efficient, polynomial time algorithm that generates statistically independent graph samples with a given, arbitrary, degree sequence. The algorithm provides a weight associated with each sample, allowing the observable to be measured either uniformly over the graph ensemble, or, alternatively, with a desired distribution. Unlike other algorithms, this method always produces a sample, without back-tracking or rejections. Using a central limit theorem-based reasoning, we argue, that for large N, and for degree sequences admitting many realizations, the sample weights are expected to have a lognormal distribution. As examples, we apply our algorithm to generate networks with degree sequences drawn from power-law distributions and from binomial distributions.