Useful R tidbits: Social Networks

r social networks

Tasty R snacks that do useful things in Social Networks

Steve Linberg true

> Academics > PS753 > Useful R tidbits

This document contains R snippets pertaining to work in the Social Networks class. There is also one for the Machine Learning class.

Prelude: finding data to play with

Since in the class tutorials, the network objects are pre-loaded in the web-based runtime environments, we don’t actually see how to load some of the data sets that the exercises are based on, for running outside of this environment.

There are gazillions of ways to get data into R, but for the purposes of playing with networks, there are some packages with pre-existing network data that can be easily loaded. Two of these are igraphdata, which contains igraph-formatted network datasets, and ergm, which contains statnet-compatible network datasets.

The datasets in each can be listed with the data command:

> data(package = "igraphdata")

Data sets in package ‘igraphdata’:

Koenigsberg              Bridges of Koenigsberg from Euler's times
UKfaculty                Friendship network of a UK university faculty
USairports               US airport network, 2010 December
enron                    Enron Email Network
foodwebs                 A collection of food webs
immuno                   Immunoglobulin interaction network
karate                   Zachary's karate club network
kite                     Krackhardt's kite
macaque                  Visuotactile brain areas and connections
rfid                     Hospital encounter network data
yeast                    Yeast protein interaction network

> data(package = "ergm")

Data sets in package ‘ergm’:

cohab_MixMat (cohab)     Target statistics and model fit to a hypothetical
                         50,000-node network population with 50,000 nodes
                         based on egocent
cohab_PopWts (cohab)     Target statistics and model fit to a hypothetical
                         50,000-node network population with 50,000 nodes
                         based on egocent
cohab_TargetStats (cohab)
                         Target statistics and model fit to a hypothetical
                         50,000-node network population with 50,000 nodes
                         based on egocent
ecoli1 (ecoli)           Two versions of an E. Coli network dataset
ecoli2 (ecoli)           Two versions of an E. Coli network dataset
faux.desert.high         Faux desert High School as a network object
faux.dixon.high          Faux dixon High School as a network object
faux.magnolia.high       Goodreau's Faux Magnolia High School as a network
faux.mesa.high           Goodreau's Faux Mesa High School as a network
flobusiness (florentine)
                         Florentine Family Marriage and Business Ties Data
                         as a "network" object
flomarriage (florentine)
                         Florentine Family Marriage and Business Ties Data
                         as a "network" object
g4                       Goodreau's four node network as a "network"
kapferer                 Kapferer's tailor shop data
kapferer2 (kapferer)     Kapferer's tailor shop data
molecule                 Synthetic network with 20 nodes and 28 edges
samplike (sampson)       Cumulative network of positive affection within a
                         monastery as a "network" object
samplk1 (samplk)         Longitudinal networks of positive affection
                         within a monastery as a "network" object
samplk2 (samplk)         Longitudinal networks of positive affection
                         within a monastery as a "network" object
samplk3 (samplk)         Longitudinal networks of positive affection
                         within a monastery as a "network" object

To load the statnet “florentine” data from the ergm package:

> data("florentine", package = "ergm")

This creates the objects flobusiness and flomarriage, both from this dataset, ready to go in statnet. Note that another version of this dataset is found in the network package flo:

data("flo", package = "network")

This loads the very simple data into a matrix, but it is not yet a network object. To convert it to an igraph object:


ntwk.ig <- graph_from_adjacency_matrix(flo)

Week 1 tutorial cheatsheet

igraph statnet
Count of vertices vcount()
Count of edges ecount()
Both print()
Bipartite or single mode? is_bipartite() print()
Edges directed or undirected? is_directed() print()
Weighted? (or binary) is_weighted() print()
vertex attribute
vector of additional information about nodes in a network
edge attribute
vector of additional information about the edges in a network

Q: how to get missing edge count in igraph?

igraph statnet
display vertex attributes vertex_attr_names() list.vertex.attributes()
display edge attributes edge_attr_names() list.edge.attributes()

In igraph, attributes are accessed via $, using the V and E functions, as in:


In statnet, they are accessed via the %v% and %e% mechanisms, as in:

karate.stat %v% "vertex.names"
karate.stat %e% "weight"

Getting the basic network descriptors

First look at any network is to examine the network size, type (un/directed, un/weighted, bipartite) and available attributes of vertices and edges.


Basic descriptors first:

[1] 34

[1] 531



[1] TRUE

Listing vertex and edge attributes:

> vertex_attr_names(climpref.ig)
[1] "name"                 "Climate.council"      "Klimaallianz"        
[4] "Stiftung.Klimarappen" "type3"                "type5"               
[7] "dm"                  

> edge_attr_names(climpref.ig)
[1] "weight"

Accessing vertex and edge attributes:

> V(climpref.ig)$name %>% head()
[1] "AA" "AB" "AC" "AD" "AE" "AF"

E(climpref.ig)$weight %>% head()
[1] 0.69 0.08 0.04 0.18 0.42 0.21


The basic descriptors in statnet are all shown by print():

> print(flobusiness)
 Network attributes:
  vertices = 16 
  directed = FALSE 
  hyper = FALSE 
  loops = FALSE 
  multiple = FALSE 
  bipartite = FALSE 
  total edges= 15 
    missing edges= 0 
    non-missing edges= 15 

 Vertex attribute names: 
    priorates totalties vertex.names wealth 

No edge attributes

It appears, though it’s thinly documented, that these attributes are programmatically accessible through the $gal attribute, as in is_directed <- flobusiness$gal$directed:

> flobusiness$gal
[1] 16

[1] 16






Week 2 cheatsheet

A dyad census will count the reciprocal (mut), asymmetric (asym) and absent (null) dyads, based on directed graphs. In igraph:

[1] 11444

[1] 3148

[1] 2244

In statnet:

 [1]   6225  19035  40611   6442   7044  10097  55355  44966   9200   1876
[11] 146537  25578  17167  30894 225908 374449

Triad census is similar:

sna::triad.census(gotbook.stat, mode="graph")  # undirected
sna::triad.census(trade2007.stat)              # directed
      003   012   102 021D 021U 021C  111D  111U 030T 030C   201  120D
[1,] 6225 13655 26489 4225 4657 4821 34812 23635 4374  537 97088 15073
     120U  120C    210    300
[1,] 7947 14249 136169 283855

Note that the statnet version gives us information about the types of triads as column names in the matrix it returns. The igraph version also breaks them into the 16 categories, but returns them in a fixed order not detailed in its return value (described in its help documentation).

The total number of possible triads in a 298 vertex network is (298 x 297 x 296) / (3 x 2 x 1) - the 3 countdown comes from “triad”. Quads would be (298 x 297 x 296 x 295) / (4 x 3 x 2 x 1).


Transitivity is the percentage of potential connected triads - how many are complete. Basic way in igraph is transitivity(). The statnet version is gtrans(), but it only works in directed networks. print() will say whether the network is directed. (Note: in the tutorial, we see that the climate network IS directed, but it returns a different result than igraph: 0.627 vs 0.724. Not clear why. “it is calculating a transitivity score based on an understanding of network structure rooted in hierarchy”)

Local transitivity is the local clustering coefficient - how many nodes of an ego are connected to each other. Have to unpack this, but the magic is:

transitivity(gotbook.ig, type="local", 
  c("Petyr Baelish","Jon Snow", "Tyrion Lannister")]) 

The global clustering coefficient in igraph is

transitivity(trade2007.ig, type="global")
[1] 0.8837142

The local coefficient is:

transitivity(trade2007.ig, type="average")
[1] 0.8862707

Network transitivity in statnet is gtrans():

[1] 0.9993143
igraph statnet
global clustering coefficient transitivity(trade2007.ig, type="global") gtrans(trade2007.stat) (directed only)
local clustering coefficient transitivity(trade2007.ig, type="local") ???
average local clustering coefficient transitivity(trade2007.ig, type="average") ???


igraph::degree() and statnet::degree(), and once again they give different results; igraph includes loops, statnet doesn’t. Force igraph to ignore them with loops = FALSE. “Note that setting diag=TRUE in sna::degree does not guarantee equivalence as statnet only single counts the loops in a directed network, while igraph double-counts the loops.”

igraph shows the node names, statnet doesn’t.

Getting the degree of a particular set of nodes in igraph:

> igraph::degree(trade2007.ig, v = V(trade2007.ig)[c("China", "Canada", "United Kingdom", "Denmark")])
         China         Canada United Kingdom        Denmark 
           364            364            364            362 

This can also be done by index, as in:

> igraph::degree(flo_ig, v = 1:3)
Acciaiuoli    Albizzi  Barbadori 
         2          6          4 

Statnet degrees aren’t named:

> sna::degree(flo_stat)
 [1]  2  6  4  6  6  2  8  2 12  2  6  0  6  4  8  6
> which(sna::degree(flo_stat) == 0)
[1] 12

Indegree and outdegree calculations

igraph statnet
indegree igraph::degree(climate.ig,mode="in", loops = FALSE) sna::degree(climate.stat, cmode="indegree")
outdegree igraph::degree(climate.ig,mode="out", loops = FALSE) sna::degree(climate.stat, cmode="outdegree")

Code from the tutorial to create data.frames with degree statistics:


trade2007.nodes <- data.frame(name = V(trade2007.ig)$name,
    totdegree = igraph::degree(trade2007.ig, loops = FALSE),
    indegree = igraph::degree(trade2007.ig, mode = "in", loops = FALSE),
    outdegree = igraph::degree(trade2007.ig, mode = "out", loops = FALSE))

#statnet version:

trade2007.nodes <- data.frame(name = trade2007.stat%v%"vertex.names",
    totdegree = sna::degree(trade2007.stat),
    indegree = sna::degree(trade2007.stat, cmode = "indegree"),
    outdegree = sna::degree(trade2007.stat, cmode = "outdegree"))


Shortest path length between 2 nodes: igraph distances() does this.

distances(gotbook.ig,"Petyr Baelish","Robb Stark")
# Calculate distance using unweighted edges
distances(gotbook.ig,"Petyr Baelish","Robb Stark", weights=NA)
# list shortest paths between 2 nodes
all_shortest_paths(gotbook.ig,"Bronn","Varys", weights=NA)$res
#find average shortest path for network

Component structure and membership

Note: a graph is fully connected if its number of components is 1. igraph returns this as the no parameter of igraph::components(); it appears that statnet has no parallel function, but if the number of isolates is 0, the graph is connected (sna::isolates()).

# What element are returned by components

# Number of components

# Size of each component

# retrieve the index of isolate nodes
# (nodes with component count of 1 from "components" above)

# There is no direct command in igraph, but we can do this:
# Create a list of the degree of each node in the network
deg_counts <- igraph::degree(gotbook.ig, loops = FALSE)

# filter and count the nodes with 0 degrees (or any other quantity of interest)
length(deg_counts[deg_counts == 0])

# subset vertex.names attribute to get names of isolates
as.vector(gotbook.stat %v% 'vertex.names')[c(isolates(gotbook.stat))] %>%
##   [1] "Aegon Frey (Jinglebell)"         "Alebelly"                       
##   [3] "Alfyn"                           "Allar Deem"                     
##   [5] "Antario Jast"                    "Balman Byrch"    

Graph density

Note: network.density() (statnet) ignores edge values “at present”.

#get network density: igraph

## [1] 0.4117647

#get network density: statnet

## [1] 0.399654

Adding loops = TRUE to graph.density() appears to fix the problem and gets the two packages to agree:

#get network density without loops: igraph
graph.density(climate.ig, loops=TRUE)

## [1] 0.399654

SO, it’s safest to always do either: - graph.density(climate.ig, loops=TRUE) (igraph), OR - network.density(climate.stat) (statnet)

In statnet, we can get network density with loops (nodes connecting to themselves) omitted:

#get network density without loops: statnet
gden(climate.stat, diag=FALSE)

## [1] 0.3921569

Network degree centralization

In statnet, call centralization() with the degree function and appropriate parameters for degree in the cmode argument:

centralization(climate.stat, degree, cmode="indegree")
centralization(climate.stat, degree, cmode="outdegree")
centralization(climate.stat, degree, cmode="freeman") # default

Could also call it with other sna functions like betweenness, closeness

The igraph version uses centr_degree() and returns an object with several components, of which centralization is one:

centr_degree(climate.ig, loops = FALSE, mode = "in")$centralization
centr_degree(climate.ig, loops = FALSE, mode = "out")$centralization

Eigenvector centralization

statnet uses evcent() to calculate the eigenvalue centrality score for each node in the network:

evcent(imf2014.stat, ignore.eval=TRUE))

Eigenvector centrality index for the network:

centralization(imf2014.stat, evcent)

In igraph, a set of eigenvector-related information is created with centr_eigen():

# If the network is directed, specify "directed - T" - will not auto-detect
eigen_info <- centr_eigen(imf2014.ig, directed = T)
# Centrality score for node 3:
# Eigenveector centrality index for the network:

The scores calculated by igraph and statnet are different. We aren’t sure why. It appears that igraph counts incoming ties to calculate eigenvector centrality, and statnet recommends using Bonachic power instead for directed networks.

Bonacich Power Centrality





Again, there appear to be some inconsistency between igraph and statnet in the calculations, with statnet apparently not incorporating weights and failing on singular matrices.

Derived and Reflected Centrality

There are no library routines for these calculations. Convert the data to a matrix first:

mat2014 <- as.matrix(as_adjacency_matrix(imf2014.ig, attr="weight"))

To calculate the proportion of centrality that is received, we first square the adjacency matrix. The diagonal of the adjacency matrix is equal to the the square of node degree. We then divide this diagonal (sqared degree) by total sqaured indegree (calculated by rowSums) to get the proportion of received centrality.

# square the adjacency matrix
mat2014sq <- t(mat2014) %*% mat2014

# Calculate the proportion of reflected centrality.
imf2014.nodes$rc <- diag(mat2014sq) / rowSums(mat2014sq)

# freplace missing values with 0
imf2014.nodes$rc <- ifelse(is.nan(imf2014.nodes$rc), 0, imf2014.nodes$rc)

# Calculate received eigenvalue centrality
imf2014.nodes$eigen.rc <- imf2014.nodes$eigen * imf2014.nodes$rc

If total centraltiy is 1, then derived centrality is simply 1 - the proportion of eigenvector centrality due to received centrality.

# Calculate the proportion of derived centrality.
imf2014.nodes$dc <- 1 - diag(mat2014sq) / rowSums(mat2014sq)

# replace missing values with 0
imf2014.nodes$dc <- ifelse(is.nan(imf2014.nodes$dc), 1, imf2014.nodes$dc)

# Calculate received eigenvalue centrality
imf2014.nodes$eigen.dc <- imf2014.nodes$eigen * imf2014.nodes$dc

Week 5: Big Block of Basic Code

Big Blocks of Basic Code to get a bunch of measures of a network:

# Get the basic stuff we can do all at once with igraph
climinfl.nodes <- data.frame(
    name      = V(climinfl.ig)$name,
    totdegree = igraph::degree(climinfl.ig, loops=FALSE),
    indegree  = igraph::degree(climinfl.ig, mode="in", loops=FALSE),
    outdegree = igraph::degree(climinfl.ig, mode="out", loops=FALSE),
    eigen     = centr_eigen(climinfl.ig, directed = T)$vector,
    bonanich  = power_centrality(climinfl.ig),
    centr_clo = igraph::closeness(climinfl.ig),
    centr_btw = igraph::betweenness(climinfl.ig, directed = FALSE),
    # igraph only
    burt      = constraint(climinfl.ig)
# Network-level measures:
#   closeness centralization
climinfl.centr_clo = centr_clo(climpref.ig)$centralization
#   betweenness centralization
climinfl.centr_btw = centr_betw(climpref.ig, directed = FALSE)$centralization

# statnet version
climinfl.nodes <- data.frame(
    name      = climinfl.stat %v% "vertex.names",
    totdegree = sna::degree(climinfl.stat),
    indegree  = sna::degree(climinfl.stat, cmode = "indegree"),
    outdegree = sna::degree(climinfl.stat, cmode = "outdegree"),
    eigen     = sna::evcent(climinfl.stat, ignore.eval = TRUE),
    bonanich  = sna::bonpow(climinfl.stat),
    centr_clo = sna::closeness(climinfl.stat, gmode = "graph",
                               cmode = "suminvundir"),
    centr_btw = sna::betweenness(climinfl.stat, gmode = "graph")
# Network-level measures:
#   closeness centralization
climinfl.centr_clo = centralization(climinfl.stat, sna::closeness, mode = "graph")
#   betweenness centralization
climinfl.centr_btw = centralization(climinfl.stat, sna::betweenness, mode = "graph")

# Statnet-only: Gould-Fernandez Brokerage
# replace ATTR with the vector of the desired attribute, such as
# `climinfl.nodes$orgtype5`
temp <- data.frame(brokerage(climinfl.stat, cl = ATTR)$z.nli)
climinfl.nodes <- climinfl.nodes %>%
  mutate(broker.tot = temp$t,
         broker.coord = temp$w_I,
         broker.itin = temp$w_O,
         broker.rep = temp$b_IO,
         broker.gate = temp$b_OI,
         broker.lia = temp$b_O)

# Calculated measures not specific to igraph or statnet:
# Build the derived and reflected centrality (dc/rc) measures
# "To calculate the proportion of centrality that is received, we first
# square the adjacency matrix. The diagonal of the adjacency matrix is
# equal to the the square of node degree. We then divide this diagonal
# (squared degree) by total squared indegree (calculated by rowSums) to get
# the proportion of received centrality."

mat_climinfl <- as.matrix(as_adjacency_matrix(climinfl.ig))  # not " attr='weight'"
mat_climinfl_sq <- t(mat_climinfl) %*% mat_climinfl
# alternately:
mat_climinfl <-, attr = "weight")
diag(mat_climinfl) <- 0
mat_climinfl_sq <- mat_climinfl %*% mat_climinfl

climinfl.nodes$rc <- diag(mat_climinfl_sq) / rowSums(mat_climinfl_sq)
# replace missing values with 0
climinfl.nodes$rc <- ifelse(is.nan(climinfl.nodes$rc), 0, climinfl.nodes$rc)
climinfl.nodes$dc <- 1 - climinfl.nodes$rc

# Build the derived and reflected eigenvector measures
climinfl.nodes$eigen.rc <- climinfl.nodes$eigen * climinfl.nodes$rc
climinfl.nodes$eigen.dc <- climinfl.nodes$eigen * climinfl.nodes$dc

Closeness centrailty

From text: “The closeness centrality of a node is defined as the sum of the geodesic distances between that node and all other nodes in a network.”

Both are called in the above blocks, with sna::closeness() or igraph::closeness() on the respective network object.

From igraph::closeness help: “Closeness centrality measures how many steps is required to access every other vertex from a given vertex.”

igraph and statnet have very different implementations, with options that have to be carefully set.


igraph uses inverse closeness.

For directed networks, use mode=("in", "out", "all", "total"), describing the path type; in is paths to a vertex, out is paths from a vertex. Undirected networks ignore this parameter. It will use the “weight” edge attribute automatically if it’s there, or can be overriden with something else.


Must specify gmode (type of graph) as graph (undirected) or digraph (directed, default). cmode (type of closeness centrality being measured) is one of: directed, undirected (both standard closeness), suminvdir (directed case) and suminvundir (undirected case), and gil-schmidt for that. The suminv options correspond to igraph’s default inversion, though they’re still calculated slightly differently, so they’re generally preferred.

statnet ignores the edge weights by default; ignore.eval = FALSE to use them, according to the documentation, but the results appear not to use them.

sna::closeness(climpref.stat, gmode="graph", cmode="suminvundir", ignore.eval=FALSE))

Closeness centralization

Closeness centralization is the network-level measure of the closeness centrality node-level measure.

climinfl.centr_clo = centr_clo(climpref.ig)$centralization
climinfl.centr_clo = centralization(climinfl.stat, FUN = "closeness", mode = "graph")

Betweenness centrality

Betweenness centrality is the node-level measure of the number of geodesics (shortest path between two nodes) on which a node sits. A high betweenness centrality measure means a node is on many shortest-paths, suggesting a measure of influence or power.

igraph::betweenness(climpref.ig, directed = FALSE)
sna::betweenness(climpref.ig, gmode = "graph")

The igraph version directed argument, for whether or not direction should be considered, defaults to TRUE; it might be wondered why it doesn’t read the directedness of the graph as a default, but oh well.

The statnet version would use gmode of digraph for a directed network, and cmode for a variant undirected form; see ?sna::betweenness for more. Statnet appears to use weights by default; weights = NA disables weights in igraph.

Betweenness centralization

The network-level measure of betweenness centralization represents Freeman centralization, at least according to the statnet documentation.

This is a “a measure of how central its most central node is in relation to how central all the other nodes are”.

climinfl.centr_btw = centr_betw(climpref.ig, directed = FALSE)$centralization
climinfl.centr_btw = centralization(climpref.stat, FUN = "betweenness", mode = "graph")

(Burt’s) network constraint

igraph-only function measuring a node’s connection redundancy from 0 (none) to 1. Uses weights.


Gould-Fernandez Brokerage


From ?brokerage(): “Gould and Fernandez (following Marsden and others) describe brokerage as the role played by a social actor who mediates contact between two alters.”

Requires a directed network with a vertex attribute used for grouping. Returns a structure with a lot of information; tutorial refers mainly to znli containing the following roles:

prefix Role Action Path
w_I Coordinator mediates contact between two individuals from his or her own group. A -> A -> A
w_O Itinerant broker mediates contact between two individuals from a single group to which he or she does not belong. A -> B -> A
b_{OI} Gatekeeper mediates an incoming contact from an out-group member to an in-group member. A -> B -> B
b_{IO} Representative mediates an outgoing contact from an in-group member to an out-group member. A -> A -> B
b_O Liaison mediates contact between two individuals from different groups, neither of which is the group to which he or she belongs. A -> B -> C
t Total Total (cumulative) brokerage role occupancy (Any two)
brokerage(climinfl.stat, cl = climinfl.nodes$orgtype5)

Week 6

(All statnet unless otherwise specified)

Calculating structural equivalence (“SE clusters”): look for nodes that have the same pattern of ties with the same neighbors, like siblings of a parent. Unexplained distance functions include “hamming”, “correlation”, “gamma”. The sedist() function ignores edge values (weights?). <- equiv.clust(flomarr.stat, = "sedist", method = "hamming", mode = "graph")

The output of equiv.clust() can be plotted as a “Cluster Dendogram”: <- equiv.clust(flomarriage, = "sedist", method = "hamming", mode = "graph")
plot(,labels =$glabels)

Annoyingly, the different cluster.methods “single, average, or ward.D” are not explained in the tutorial. The default is “complete”.

rect.hclust() (visually) “cuts” the diagram at a given height, making separate clusters:

plot(, labels =$glabels)
rect.hclust($cluster, h = 9) <- equiv.clust(flomarriage, = "sedist", cluster.method = "single",
                          method = "hamming", mode = "graph")
plot(,labels =$glabels)


If you see mistakes or want to suggest changes, please create an issue on the source repository.


Text and figures are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution CC BY-NC 4.0. Source code is available at, unless otherwise noted. The figures that have been reused from other sources don't fall under this license and can be recognized by a note in their caption: "Figure from ...".


For attribution, please cite this work as

Linberg (2022, Feb. 8). Useful R tidbits: Social Networks. Retrieved from

BibTeX citation

  author = {Linberg, Steve},
  title = { Useful R tidbits: Social Networks},
  url = {},
  year = {2022}