A Decentralized Algorithm for Spectral Analysis

  • David Kempe
  • Frank McSherry

36th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC '04) |

In many large network settings, such as computer networks, social networks, or hyperlinked text documents, much information can be obtained from the network’s spectral properties. However, traditional centralized approaches for computing eigenvectors struggle with at least two obstacles: the data may be difficult to obtain (both due to technical reasons and because of privacy concerns), and the sheer size of the networks makes the computation expensive. A decentralized, distributed algorithm addresses both of these obstacles: it utilizes the computational power of all nodes in the network and their ability to communicate, thus speeding up the computation with the network size. And as each node knows its incident edges, the data collection problem is avoided as well. Our main result is a simple decentralized algorithm for computing the top k eigenvectors of a symmetric weighted adjacency matrix, and a proof that it converges essentially in O(τmix log2 n) rounds of communication and computation, where τmix is the mixing time of a random walk on the network. An additional contribution of our work is a decentralized way of actually detecting convergence, and diagnosing the current error. Our protocol scales well, in that the amount of computation performed at any node in any one round, and the sizes of messages sent, depend polynomially on k, but not at all on the (typically much larger) number n of nodes.