Luís A. Nunes Amaral

co-Director, Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems
Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Professor of Physics & Astronomy (by courtesy)
Professor of Medicine (by courtesy)

Chemical & Biological Engineering
2145 Sheridan Road (Room E136)
EvanstonIL 60208US
Phone: (847) 491-7850


Most networks found in social and biochemical systems have modular structures. An important question prompted by the modularity of these networks is whether nodes can be said to belong to a single group. If they cannot, we would need to consider the role of "overlapping communities." Despite some efforts in this direction, the problem of detecting overlapping groups remains unsolved because there is neither a formal definition of overlapping community, nor an ensemble of networks with which to test the performance of group detection algorithms when nodes can belong to more than one group. Here, we introduce an ensemble of networks with overlapping groups. We then apply three group identification methods - modularity maximization, k-clique percolation, and modularity-landscape surveying - to these networks. We find that the modularity-landscape surveying method is the only one able to detect heterogeneities in node memberships, and that those heterogeneities are only detectable when the overlap is small. Surprisingly, we find that the k-clique percolation method is unable to detect node membership for the overlapping case.