Graph Contraction Networkx

Graph Contraction Networkx

Graph contraction is a powerful technique in network analysis that involves simplifying a graph by merging nodes and edges to create more manageable subgraphs. This article will explore graph contraction using the Python library NetworkX, and demonstrate how it can be used to create more efficient network algorithms.

What is graph contraction?

Graph contraction involves merging nodes (vertices) in a graph to create a simpler version of the original graph. This technique is often used to simplify complex networks, making them more manageable for analysis. When nodes are merged, the resulting subgraph will have fewer nodes and edges, making it easier to analyze.

The process of graph contraction involves identifying nodes that are similar in some way and merging them into a single node. For example, if two nodes have the same label, they could be merged into a single node. Alternatively, nodes that have similar properties, such as degree or betweenness centrality, could be merged.

Graph contraction in NetworkX

NetworkX is a popular Python library for network analysis, which includes a range of tools for working with graphs. One of the features of NetworkX is the ability to contract nodes in a graph using the nx.contracted_nodes() function.

The nx.contracted_nodes() function takes a graph and a set of nodes to be contracted. It then merges the nodes and updates the graph accordingly. Here is an example of how to use this function:


import networkx as nx

# create a graph

G = nx.Graph()

G.add_edges_from([(1, 2), (1, 3), (2, 3), (2, 4), (3, 4), (4, 5)])

# contract nodes 2 and 3

G_contracted = nx.contracted_nodes(G, 2, 3)

# print the resulting graph



In this example, we create a graph with six nodes and six edges. We then contract nodes 2 and 3, resulting in a new graph with five nodes and five edges. The resulting graph only has one node with a degree greater than two, making it easier to analyze using certain algorithms.

Applications of graph contraction

Graph contraction is a useful technique in many areas of network analysis, including social network analysis, transportation networks, and biological networks. By simplifying complex graphs, it can help researchers better understand the structure and behavior of networks.

One application of graph contraction is in community detection. Community detection is the process of identifying groups of nodes in a network that are highly connected to each other. By contracting nodes in a graph, it is possible to identify communities more easily, as nodes that belong to the same community will be merged into a single node.


Graph contraction is a powerful technique for simplifying complex graphs, making them more manageable for analysis. NetworkX is a popular Python library for network analysis that includes tools for contracting nodes in a graph. By using graph contraction, researchers can gain insight into the structure and behavior of networks, and improve the efficiency of certain algorithms.


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