Correlation distances in social networks

Pádraig MacCarron, Shane Mannion, Thierry Platini

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In this work, we explore degree assortativity in complex networks, and extend its usual definition beyond that of nearest neighbours. We apply this definition to model networks, and describe a rewiring algorithm that induces assortativity. We compare these results to real networks. Social networks in particular tend to be assortatively mixed by degree in contrast to many other types of complex networks. However, we show here that these positive correlations diminish after one step and in most of the empirical networks analysed. Properties besides degree support this, such as the number of papers in scientific coauthorship networks, with no correlations beyond nearest neighbours. Beyond next-nearest neighbours we also observe a disassortative tendency for nodes three steps away indicating that nodes at that distance are more likely different than similar.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbercnad016
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Complex Networks
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the termsof the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


S.M. is funded by the Science Foundation Ireland (Grant number 18/CRT/6049).


  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Control and Optimization
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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