A simple spectral algorithm for recovering planted partitions

Sam Cole 1 , Shmuel Friedland 1 ,  and Lev Reyzin 1
  • 1 Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, , Chicago, USA


In this paper, we consider the planted partition model, in which n = ks vertices of a random graph are partitioned into k “clusters,” each of size s. Edges between vertices in the same cluster and different clusters are included with constant probability p and q, respectively (where 0 ≤ q < p ≤ 1). We give an efficient algorithm that, with high probability, recovers the clusters as long as the cluster sizes are are least (√n). Informally, our algorithm constructs the projection operator onto the dominant k-dimensional eigenspace of the graph’s adjacency matrix and uses it to recover one cluster at a time. To our knowledge, our algorithm is the first purely spectral algorithm which runs in polynomial time and works even when s = Θ (√n), though there have been several non-spectral algorithms which accomplish this. Our algorithm is also among the simplest of these spectral algorithms, and its proof of correctness illustrates the usefulness of the Cauchy integral formula in this domain.

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Special Matrices is a peer-reviewed, open access electronic journal that publishes original articles of wide significance and originality in all areas of research involving structured matrices present in various branches of pure and applied mathematics and their noteworthy applications in physics, engineering, and other sciences.