Separating Controversy from Noise: Comparison and Normalization of Structural Polarization Measures

by   Ali Salloum, et al.

Quantifying the amount of polarization is crucial for understanding and studying political polarization in political and social systems. Several methods are used commonly to measure polarization in social networks by purely inspecting their structure. We analyse eight of such methods and show that all of them yield high polarization scores even for random networks with similar density and degree distributions to typical real-world networks. Further, some of the methods are sensitive to degree distributions and relative sizes of the polarized groups. We propose normalization to the existing scores and a minimal set of tests that a score should pass in order for it to be suitable for separating polarized networks from random noise. The performance of the scores increased by 38 networks. Further, we find that the choice of method is not as important as normalization, after which most of the methods have better performance than the best-performing method before normalization. This work opens up the possibility to critically assess and compare the features and performance of structural polarization methods.


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