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An Algorithm to Automatically Generate the Combinatorial Orbit Counting Equations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Ine Melckenbeeck
  • Pieter Audenaert
  • Tom Michoel
  • Didier Colle
  • Mario Pickavet

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    Rights statement: © 2016 Melckenbeeck et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0147078
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2016


Graphlets are small subgraphs, usually containing up to five vertices, that can be found in a larger graph. Identification of the graphlets that a vertex in an explored graph touches can provide useful information about the local structure of the graph around that vertex. Actually finding all graphlets in a large graph can be time-consuming, however. As the graphlets grow in size, more different graphlets emerge and the time needed to find each graphlet also scales up. If it is not needed to find each instance of each graphlet, but knowing the number of graphlets touching each node of the graph suffices, the problem is less hard. Previous research shows a way to simplify counting the graphlets: instead of looking for the graphlets needed, smaller graphlets are searched, as well as the number of common neighbors of vertices. Solving a system of equations then gives the number of times a vertex is part of each graphlet of the desired size. However, until now, equations only exist to count graphlets with 4 or 5 nodes. In this paper, two new techniques are presented. The first allows to generate the equations needed in an automatic way. This eliminates the tedious work needed to do so manually each time an extra node is added to the graphlets. The technique is independent on the number of nodes in the graphlets and can thus be used to count larger graphlets than previously possible. The second technique gives all graphlets a unique ordering which is easily extended to name graphlets of any size. Both techniques were used to generate equations to count graphlets with 4, 5 and 6 vertices, which extends all previous results. Code can be found at https://github.com/IneMelckenbeeck/equation-generator and https://github.com/IneMelckenbeeck/graphlet-naming.

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