A Statistical Framework for Modern Network Science

Harry Crane, Walter Dempsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We discuss how sampling design, units, the observation mechanism and other basic statistical notions figure into modern network data analysis. These considerations pose several new challenges that cannot be adequately addressed by merely extending or generalizing classical methods. Such challenges stem from fundamental differences between the domains in which network data emerge and those for which classical tools were developed. By revisiting these basic statistical considerations, we suggest a framework in which to develop theory and methods for network analysis in a way that accounts for both conceptual and practical challenges of network science. We then discuss how some well-known model classes fit within this framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages17
JournalStatistical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


  • Network data
  • data generating process
  • edge exchangeable network
  • network sampling
  • relational exchangeability
  • relative exchangeability
  • scale-free network
  • sparse network


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