Fitting Latent Cluster Models for Networks with latentnet


Abstract
latentnet is a package to fit and evaluate statistical latent position and cluster models for networks. Hoff, Raftery, and Handcock suggested an approach to modeling networks based on positing the existence of an latent space of characteristics of the actors. Relationships form as a function of distances between these characteristics as well as functions of observed dyadic level covariates. In latentnet social distances are represented in a Euclidean space. It also includes a variant of the extension of the latent position model to allow for clustering of the positions developed in Handcock, Raftery, and Tantrum. The package implements Bayesian inference for the models based on an Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm. It can also compute maximum likelihood estimates for the latent position model and a two-stage maximum likelihood method for the latent position cluster model. For latent position cluster models, the package provides a Bayesian way of assessing how many groups there are, and thus whether or not there is any clustering. It also estimates which cluster each actor belongs to. These estimates are probabilistic, and provide the probability of each actor belonging to each cluster. It computes four types of point estimates for the coefficients and positions: maximum likelihood estimate, posterior mean, posterior mode and the estimator which minimizes Kullback-Leibler divergence from the posterior. You can assess the goodness-of-fit of the model via posterior predictive checks. It has a function to simulate networks from a latent position or latent position cluster model.
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