note: A jupyter notebook version of this post is available here.

## Intro

So graphs are made up of nodes and edges. We’re going to build on top of a graph a random dynamical system that’s going to move around on it known as a random walk. By doing so and recording each of the steps the random dynamical system takes we will manage to extract samples of the population of nodes in the graph.

Typically if you allow the random walk to move between nodes by selecting the next node uniformly from the set of connections the collection of nodes you end up with in your orbit isn’t a uniform distribution of the network nodes. Instead you get something biased towards nodes with higher connection counts. There is a trick to modifying the nature of the random walk so that it gets a uniform distribution across all the network nodes. This is known as the Metropolis Hastings algorithm which basically chooses the subsequent nodes in the orbit with higher probability if they’re less well connected.

In the case of the small graphs we’re going to look at this sampling method isn’t really needed because you could just choose a random sample from the nodes. This type of technique is useful for sampling networks from which you cannot just draw a sample. In the case of twitter for instance you cannot select a user at random. In order to fix this you could run a Metropolis Hastings random walk on the network and after a long time you’d get the sample your want. (It would be a very long time. Twitters API rate limits basically make this impossible in reality, I tried)

Suppose you have a collection of states $${s_1,...,s_n}$$ these will be the nodes on the graph. Imagine a little chap we’ll call a walker whose sat at one of these nodes/states. We’re going to denote the probability of the walker at $$s_i$$ moving to $$s_j$$ as given by $$p_{i,j}$$. I’m going to use node and state somewhat interchangeably. The difference is just that a node is a specific node in the network whereas I guess a state refers to the state of the dynamical system. So the location of the walker for instance, which would be at a specific node.

The states/nodes can really be anything, for instance they could encode letters and the probabilities $$p_{a, b}$$ would be the probability for finding the letters ‘a’ and ‘b’ next to each other in a sentence.

## Imports

Before we start I’m going to import a tun of stuff. The pairwise function will be useful for turning orbits into pairwise transitions in points. We can then use this to count frequencies of transitions and then approximate probabilities. I’m going to use it to train approximations of transition matrices for sentences where a sentence is an orbit on a network with letters for nodes.

from itertools import tee
import random
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt; plt.rcdefaults()
import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import math

# For generating pairwise elements in a list. [1,2,3,4,5] becomes (1,2), (2,3), (3,4), (4,5)
def pairwise(iterable):
a, b = tee(iterable)
next(b, None)
return zip(a, b)

# example:
orbit = 'hello'
for s_1, s_2 in pairwise(orbit):
print(s_1, '->', s_2)

h -> e
e -> l
l -> l
l -> o


I’m going to represent three objects of interest using classes.

The first is a walker class. We’re going to use this to generate random walks from the graph. It stores only a single state so for instance perhaps the letter ‘l’.

# For running random walks on the graph
class Walker:
def __init__(self, state):
self.state = state



The next is called State and represents distributions of walkers. So picture each walker as an individual in a population. Suppose for this population 50% of the walker individuals are sat on the letter ‘l’ then we represent that by setting the dictionary value for ‘l’ to 0.5. This is a vector representation of how things, in this case our walkers, are distributed across the network. Most of the methods I’ve defined on this class are for visualizing the distribution or creating specific forms of the distribution. We’ll see more later.

# Abstraction of single state such as in the Walker class to a distribution of states.
class State:
def __init__(self, states):
self.states = {state: 0  for state in states}

def __str__(self):
string = ''
count = 0
print('-------------------------------------------------------------------------------')
for i, k in self.states.items():
count = count + 1
string = string + '{}  :  {:.5f}  |  '.format(i, k)
if count > 5:
string = string + '\n'
count = 0.
return string

def draw(self):
objects = self.states.keys()
y_pos = np.arange(len(objects))
performance = [val for k, val in self.states.items()]
plt.bar(y_pos, performance, align='center', alpha=0.5)
plt.xticks(y_pos, objects)
plt.ylabel('density')
plt.title('Word occurence orbit frequency')
plt.show()

@classmethod
def from_orbit(cls, orbit):
instance = cls(orbit)
for point in orbit:
instance.states[point] = instance.states.get(point, 0) + 1
for key, value in instance.states.items():
instance.states[key] = instance.states[key]/len(orbit)
return instance

@classmethod
def from_uniform(cls, states):
instance = cls(states)
for key, value in instance.states.items():
instance.states[key] = 1/len(instance.states)
return instance

def __sub__(self, other):
difference = State(self.states.keys())
for key, _ in difference.states.items():
difference.states[key] = abs(self.states.get(key, 0) - other.states.get(key, 0))
return difference

def dist(self, other):
diff = other - self
return math.sqrt(sum([v**2 for _, v in diff.states.items()]))



The third is transition Matrix class encodes the probabilities of transitions in states. In this case we’re looking at transitions between letters. This class acts on each of the Walker and State classes via the __matmul__ method (more bellow). In the case of the Walker class the matrix will randomly update the node/state the walker is at to one of the nodes it is connected to. Where the likely hood of it choosing a particular connected node is proportional to the transition probability $$p_{i,j}$$. This class can also acts on the State class. If we’re thinking of the State class as a representation of lots of individual Walker classes where a 0.5 value associated to a node/state means that 0.5 percent of the population of walkers are located at that node. The action of the transition matrix class gives a new distribution of walkers after each of them have taken a random step. The density picture of a population of walkers is really just a heuristic. What this vector represents best is the probabilities of finding a walker in a specific place. The action of a transition matrix $$M$$ on this density vector at time $$t$$, $$v(t)$$ is just matrix multiplication. So:

$v_i(t+1) = M_{0,i}v_0(t) + M_{1,i}v_1(t) + ... + M_{n,i}v_n(t)$

this just tells us that the new density of walkers at the state $$i$$, is given by the density at each of the states times there transition probabilities from that state to state $$i$$ i.e. the value $$M_{j,i}v_j(t)$$.


# Going to map between states with this class
class TransitionMatrix:
def __init__(self, states, data=None):
self.p = {state: {} for state in states}
if data is None:
data = states
self._count(data)
self._normalize()

def _count(self, states):
for letter_1, letter_2 in pairwise(states):
self.p[letter_1][letter_2] = self.p[letter_1].get(letter_2, 0) + 1

def _normalize(self):
for key, val in self.p.items():
row_total = sum([count for _, count in val.items()])
for target, count in val.items():
self.p[key][target] = self.p[key][target]/row_total

def __matmul__(self, other):
"""If applying the transistion matrix class to a Walker class then select the next state at random.
If applying to a State class we generate a new distrbution. """

if isinstance(other, State):
new_state = State([s for s, _ in other.states.items()])
for s_1, p in other.states.items():
sum_p_s2_s1 = 0
for s_2, P in self.p.items():
sum_p_s2_s1 = sum_p_s2_s1 + other.states[s_2]*P.get(s_1, 0)
new_state.states[s_1] = sum_p_s2_s1
return new_state

if isinstance(other, Walker):
ps = self.p[other.state]
choices = [*ps.keys()]
weights = [*ps.values()]
choice = random.choices(choices, weights=weights).pop()
return Walker(choice)



The main feature of the above class is the __matmul__ method. This means if we have an instance T of a TransistionMatrix class and an instance w of a Walker class we can write:

T@w


Then in the __matmul__(self, other), we have self as the TransistionMatrix instance and other as the Walker. I’ve set this up to evolve both States and Walkers so the method first checks which the other object is. In our case it’s going to be a Walker. self.p is a dictionary that encodes the transition probabilities. self.p[other.state] is the set of connected nodes and probabilities from other.state or the node on which the walker is sitting.

so we get the probability vector: self.p[other.state], we unpack the states and the probabilities and then use pythons built-in random package to choose one at random in proportion to the weight vector. We then return a new Walker in that state.

Note you don’t need to use @ there’s nothing special about this operator, it would probability be more readable to create a method called multiply instead.

## Creating A Transistion Matrix

So I’m going to get the transition matrix associated to the letter pairs in the above introduction. The class essentially counts through each adjacent pair of letters and records the frequencies they occur. It then normalizes these frequencies so that given a state the sum of probabilities for transitions to each other state from that state is 1.

import re

intro = """So graphs are made up of nodes and edges. We're going to build on top of a graph a random dynamical system that's going to move around on it known as a random walk. Doing so and recording each of the steps the random dynamical system takes we will manage to extract samples of the nodes in the graph. Typically if you allow the random walk to move between node by selecting the next node uniformly from the set of connections you don't get a uniform distribution of the network nodes. Instead you get something biased towards nodes with higher connection counts. There is a trick to modifying the nature of the random walk so that it gets a uniform distribution across all the network nodes this is known as the Metropolis Hastings algorithm which basically chooses subsequent nodes with higher probability if they're less connected. In the case of the small graphs we're going to look at this sampling method isn't really needed because you could just choose a random sample from the nodes. This type of technique is useful for sampling networks from which you can just draw a sample. In the case of twitter for instance you cannot select a user at random this means any sample you draw from the twitter network will be biased. In order to fix this you could run a Metropolis Hastings random walk on the network and after a long time you'd get the sample your want. (It would be a very long time. Twitters API rate limits basically make this impossible in reality) Suppose you have a collection of states ${s_1,...,s_n}$ these will be the nodes on the graph. Imagine a little chap we'll call a walker whose sat at one of these nodes/states. We're going to denote the probability of the walker at $s_i$ moving to $s_j$ as given by $p_{i,j}$. The states/nodes can really be anything, for instance they could encode letters and the probabilities $p_{a, b}$ would be the probability for finding the letters 'a' and 'b' next to each other in a sentence."""

cleaned_intro = re.sub(r'\W+', '', intro)

T = TransitionMatrix(cleaned_intro)



So now we can see which letters can go to which other letters and how likely they are to do so. We just look at T.p['u'].

T.p['u']

{'p': 0.05128205128205128,
'i': 0.02564102564102564,
'n': 0.15384615384615385,
'a': 0.05128205128205128,
'd': 0.07692307692307693,
'b': 0.07692307692307693,
't': 0.05128205128205128,
'g': 0.02564102564102564,
'r': 0.05128205128205128,
'e': 0.05128205128205128,
'c': 0.10256410256410256,
'l': 0.15384615384615385,
's': 0.10256410256410256,
'h': 0.02564102564102564}


We can verify the sum of these values is 1. The set up here is all done in the _normalize and _count methods on the TransistionMatrix class

sum([v for _,v in T.p['u'].items()])

1.0


## Sampling orbits

So first lets draw a orbit from the state space by iteratively applying a transition matrix to a walker.

m = State(cleaned_intro)
T = TransitionMatrix(cleaned_intro)
w = Walker('t')
w.state
orbit = [w]

for i in range(10):
orbit.append(T@orbit[-1])

print([o.state for o in orbit])

['t', 'l', 'l', 'g', 'r', 'o', 'w', 'n', 't', 'h', 'e']


We can compute the probability of a given orbit by multiplying the probabilities of each of the transitions. So given an orbit $$o=[s_1, s_2, ..., s_n]$$ it’s likelihood of occurring is:

$p(o) = \prod_{i=0}^{n}p(s_i\|s_{i-1})$

where $$p(s_i\| s_{i-1}) = p_{s_{i-1},s_i}$$ is the probability of $$s_{i-1}$$ going to $$s_i$$.

p_o = 1
for s_1, s_2 in pairwise(orbit):
print(s_1.state, ' -> ' ,s_2.state, ' with prob:',T.p[s_1.state][s_2.state])
p_o = p_o*T.p[s_1.state][s_2.state]

print('--------------------------------')
print('prob of orbit: ', p_o)

t  ->  l  with prob: 0.00684931506849315
l  ->  l  with prob: 0.20833333333333334
l  ->  g  with prob: 0.027777777777777776
g  ->  r  with prob: 0.13157894736842105
r  ->  o  with prob: 0.16
o  ->  w  with prob: 0.028985507246376812
w  ->  n  with prob: 0.05714285714285714
n  ->  t  with prob: 0.11504424778761062
t  ->  h  with prob: 0.3013698630136986
h  ->  e  with prob: 0.5
--------------------------------
prob of orbit:  2.3960031603136377e-11


The outcome is very small which is to be expected given that the number of possible orbits grows large fast.

## Distributions

Lets quickly rehash the State Class. So the State class represents distributions on the set of letters that make up the nodes of the network.

Suppose we want to draw a representative sample of this network of letters. In this case we’re drawing an analogy between twitter and the letters in our network. So a representative sample of the network just means a representative sample of the nodes, in our case letters, (Twitters: users).

This can be represented by a density that’s uniform across all the letters. This is representative in that if we took a sample from it the probability of us drawing a particular node is the same as drawing any other. These types of samples are important if your trying to talk about the average member of a population.

I’ve defined a class method that builds this probability vector for you (The assumption of Metropolis Hastings is that this is unreachable, i.e. we cannot sample from this distribution):

m = State(cleaned_intro)
uniform = State.from_uniform(m.states.keys())
print(uniform)
uniform.draw()

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
S  :  0.03125  |  o  :  0.03125  |  g  :  0.03125  |  r  :  0.03125  |  a  :  0.03125  |  p  :  0.03125  |
h  :  0.03125  |  s  :  0.03125  |  e  :  0.03125  |  m  :  0.03125  |  d  :  0.03125  |  u  :  0.03125  |
f  :  0.03125  |  n  :  0.03125  |  W  :  0.03125  |  i  :  0.03125  |  t  :  0.03125  |  b  :  0.03125  |
l  :  0.03125  |  y  :  0.03125  |  c  :  0.03125  |  v  :  0.03125  |  k  :  0.03125  |  w  :  0.03125  |
D  :  0.03125  |  x  :  0.03125  |  T  :  0.03125  |  I  :  0.03125  |  q  :  0.03125  |  j  :  0.03125  |
_  :  0.03125  |  1  :  0.03125  | Lets now see what the distribution of letters looks like when we take a sample from the network by running a Walker on the network for a long time and storing each of the nodes that it arrives at along it’s path.

m = State(cleaned_intro)
T = TransitionMatrix(cleaned_intro)
w = Walker('t')
w.state
orbit = [w]

for i in range(5000):
orbit.append(T@orbit[-1])

orbit_dist = State.from_orbit([o.state for o in orbit])
print(orbit_dist)
orbit_dist.draw()

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
t  :  0.09498  |  h  :  0.04939  |  e  :  0.11258  |  a  :  0.07998  |  s  :  0.06319  |  x  :  0.00280  |
l  :  0.04079  |  d  :  0.03679  |  b  :  0.01900  |  y  :  0.02300  |  w  :  0.02120  |  o  :  0.09098  |
g  :  0.02400  |  n  :  0.07558  |  i  :  0.05759  |  r  :  0.04859  |  k  :  0.01180  |  v  :  0.00600  |
m  :  0.02979  |  p  :  0.02140  |  u  :  0.02380  |  I  :  0.00460  |  c  :  0.03039  |  _  :  0.00320  |
j  :  0.00240  |  T  :  0.00380  |  f  :  0.01940  |  D  :  0.00040  |  W  :  0.00060  |  S  :  0.00060  |
q  :  0.00140  | So this clearly hasn’t converged to a representative sample of the network as it’s heavily biased towards certain nodes. To talk about convergence more clearly we need to define a metric by which to gauge how similar two distributions are.

## Similarity of Distributions:

To get this we just subtract the two vectors from each other, sum the square of the differences and take the square root of the sum.

$dist(p_1, p_2) = \sqrt{\sum_{i=0}^{N}(p_1[i] - p_2[i])^2}$

I’ve added a dist method to the State class that computes this quantity. So for two equal distributions we get:

uniform.dist(uniform)

0.0


and for two unequal distributions we have a value greater than zero:

orbit_dist.dist(uniform)

0.17698646223343223


this gives us a method for examining convergence of orbits and allows us to numerically answer:

• Is it the case that two different orbits are converging to the same distribution?
• And how does the orbit distribution converge or not converge w.r.t. the uniform distribution?

We can test this. The following graphs show how the orbit distributions of two random walks converge to each other but neither converge to the uniform distribution:

Note: This is not a fast way of doing this, but it’ll do

T = TransitionMatrix(cleaned_intro)
orbit_1 = [Walker('t')]
orbit_2 = [Walker('o')]
differences_1 = []
differences_2 = []
differences_3 = []

for i in range(5000):
orbit_1.append(T@orbit_1[-1])
orbit_2.append(T@orbit_2[-1])
orbit_dist_1 = State.from_orbit([o.state for o in orbit_1])
orbit_dist_2 = State.from_orbit([o.state for o in orbit_2])
differences_1.append(orbit_dist_1.dist(orbit_dist_2))
differences_2.append(orbit_dist_1.dist(uniform))
differences_3.append(orbit_dist_2.dist(uniform))

plt.plot(differences_1)
plt.plot(differences_2)
plt.plot(differences_3)
plt.title('Distance between orbit distrubutions')
plt.ylabel('difference')
plt.xlabel('time')
plt.show() Each line in the graph above denotes the distances between the distributions of orbit 1, orbit 2 and the uniform distribution for each step in the each orbit. Not the uniform distribution is fixed as we don’t evolve it via the transition matrix.

So above we’re running two orbits from different initial points. ‘t’ and ‘o’. These orbits converge towards each other as demonstrated by the line that slopes down towards 0. Both of these orbits however don’t converge to the uniform distribution which is represented by the two lines that plateau around 0.2. In the next post I’m going to show how Metropolis Hastings Algorithm can be used to adjust a random walk so that it converges to the uniform distribution.