The importance sampling technique for understanding rare events in Erdős-Rényi random graphs


Journal Article

© 2015 University of Washington. All rights reserved. In dense Erdős-Rényi random graphs, we are interested in the events where large numbers of a given subgraph occur. The mean behavior of subgraph counts is known, and only recently were the related large deviations results discovered. Consequently, it is natural to ask, can one develop efficient numerical schemes to estimate the probability of an Erdős-Rényi graph containing an excessively large number of a fixed given subgraph? Using the large deviation principle we study an importance sampling scheme as a method to numerically compute the small probabilities of large triangle counts occurring within Erdős-Rényi graphs. We show that the exponential tilt suggested directly by the large deviation principle does not always yield an optimal scheme. The exponential tilt used in the importance sampling scheme comes from a generalized class of exponential random graphs. Asymptotic optimality, a measure of the efficiency of the importance sampling scheme, is achieved by a special choice of the parameters in the exponential random graph that makes it indistinguishable from an Erdős-Rényi graph conditioned to have many triangles in the large network limit. We show how this choice can be made for the conditioned Erdős-Rényi graphs both in the replica symmetric phase as well as in parts of the replica breaking phase to yield asymptotically optimal numerical schemes to estimate this rare event probability.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bhamidi, S; Hannig, J; Lee, CY; Nolen, J

Published Date

  • October 19, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 20 /

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1083-6489

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1214/EJP.v20-2696

Citation Source

  • Scopus