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Efficient Detection of Network Motifs
October-December 2006 (vol. 3 no. 4)
pp. 347-359
Motifs in a given network are small connected subnetworks that occur in significantly higher frequencies than would be expected in random networks. They have recently gathered much attention as a concept to uncover structural design principles of complex networks. Kashtan et al. [Bioinformatics, 2004] proposed a sampling algorithm for performing the computationally challenging task of detecting network motifs. However, among other drawbacks, this algorithm suffers from a sampling bias and scales poorly with increasing subgraph size. Based on a detailed analysis of the previous algorithm, we present a new algorithm for network motif detection which overcomes these drawbacks. Furthermore, we present an efficient new approach for estimating the frequency of subgraphs in random networks that, in contrast to previous approaches, does not require the explicit generation of random networks. Experiments on a testbed of biological networks show our new algorithms to be orders of magnitude faster than previous approaches, allowing for the detection of larger motifs in bigger networks than previously possible and thus facilitating deeper insight into the field.

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Index Terms:
Network motif detection algorithm, subgraph enumeration, subgraph sampling, subgraph concentration in random graphs.
Citation:
Sebastian Wernicke, "Efficient Detection of Network Motifs," IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 347-359, Oct.-Dec. 2006, doi:10.1109/TCBB.2006.51
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