Awards: Best Paper Runner-up, SDM’16!


Given a graph with node attributes, what neighborhoods are anomalous? To answer this question, one needs a quality score that utilizes both structure and attributes. Popular existing measures either quantify the structure only and ignore the attributes (e.g., conductance), or only consider the connectedness of the nodes inside the neighborhood and ignore the cross-edges at the boundary (e.g., density).

In this work we propose normality, a new quality measure for attributed neighborhoods. Normality utilizes structure and attributes together to quantify both internal consistency and external separability. It exhibits two key advantages over other measures: (1) It allows many boundary-edges as long as they can be “exonerated”; i.e., either (i) are expected under a null model, and/or (ii) the boundary nodes do not exhibit the subset of attributes shared by the neighborhood members. Existing measures, in contrast, penalize boundary edges irrespectively. (2) Normality can be efficiently maximized to automatically infer the shared attribute subspace (and respective weights) that characterize a neighborhood. This efficient optimization allows us to process graphs with millions of attributes.

We capitalize on our measure to present a novel approach for Anomaly Mining of Entity Neighborhoods (AMEN). Experiments on real-world attributed graphs illustrate the effectiveness of our measure at anomaly detection, outperforming popular approaches including conductance, density, OddBall, and SODA. In addition to anomaly detection, our qualitative analysis demonstrates the utility of normality as a powerful tool to contrast the correlation between structure and attributes across different graphs.

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A PDF draft of the manuscript is available on arxiv.


An implementation in Matlab is available on Github.