Quantifying loss of information in network-based dimensionality reduction techniques

Hector Zenil*, Narsis A. Kiani, Jesper Tegnér

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


To cope with the complexity of large networks, a number of dimensionality reduction techniques for graphs have been developed. However, the extent to which information is lost or preserved when these techniques are employed has not yet been clear. Here, we develop a framework, based on algorithmic information theory, to quantify the extent to which information is preserved when network motif analysis, graph spectra and spectral sparsification methods are applied to over 20 different biological and artificial networks. We find that the spectral sparsification is highly sensitive to high number of edge deletion, leading to significant inconsistencies, and that graph spectral methods are the most irregular, capturing algebraic information in a condensed fashion but largely losing most of the information content of the original networks. However, the approach shows that network motif analysis excels at preserving the relative algorithmic information content of a network, hence validating and generalizing the remarkable fact that despite their inherent combinatorial possibilities, local regularities preserve information to such an extent that essential properties are fully recoverable across different networks to determine their family group to which they belong to (e.g. genetic vs social network). Our algorithmic information methodology thus provides a rigorous framework enabling a fundamental assessment and comparison between different data dimensionality reduction methods thereby facilitating the identification and evaluation of the capabilities of old and new methods.,

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-362
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Complex Networks
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Dimensionality reduction techniques
  • Graph motifs
  • Graph sparsification
  • Graph spectra
  • Network
  • kolmogorov complexity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Control and Optimization
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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