Undergraduate Study

DATA5441: Networks and High-dimensional Inference

General Information

1st semester 2020, Lecturer: Eduardo G. Altmann.

Forum, Notebooks, etc. (please e-mail me if you don't have access to the course).

Online access (to classes and consultation)

via Zoom, Meeting ID: 700 554 437, link here

Usyd students not able to attend the classes: write me an e-mail.

Students from other Australian Universities: register at ACE/AMSI here


Tuesdays 9-11 and Wednesdays 9-11, Carslaw Building, 8th floor, room 829 (AGR room).

Consultation time

Wednesdays 11am-12pm, Carslaw 615.


Exam (40%), Assignments (30%), and Project (30%). Attendance to class is essential.

There will be assignments every one or two weeks. The final assignment mark will be the mean of the individual assignment marks.


The project takes place in Weeks 12 and 13.


In our interconnected world, networks are an increasingly important representation of datasets and systems. This unit will investigate how this network approach to problems can be pursued through the combination of mathematical models and datasets. You will learn different mathematical models of networks and understand how these models explain non-intuitive phenomena, such as the small world phenomenon (short paths between nodes despite clustering), the friendship paradox (our friends typically have more friends than we have), and the sudden appearance of epidemic-like processes spreading through networks. You will learn computational techniques needed to infer information about the mathematical models from data and, finally, you will learn how to combine mathematical models, computational techniques, and real-world data to draw conclusions about problems. More generally, network data is a paradigm for high-dimensional interdependent data, the typical problem in data science. By doing this unit you will develop computational and mathematical skills of wide applicability in studies of networks, data science, complex systems, and statistical physics.

Objectives and learning outcome

Develop analytical, numerical, and modeling skills that help to connect abstract mathematical ideas to real-world systems represented as networks.


  • Networks: An Introduction, Mark Newman, Oxford Univ Press, 2010.
  • Network Science book, L. Barabasi, 2017
  • Dynamical Processes on Complex Networks, A. Barrat, M. Barthélemy, A. Vespignani, Cambridge University Press, 2012
  • Statistical mechanics of complex networks, R. Albert & A. Barabasi, Rev. Mod. Phys. 2002.
  • The Structure and Function of Complex Networks, M. Newman, SIAM Review, 2002.

Software for computation

Network data :

Tentative week-by-week outline

  • 1 (24/2) Networks, data science, and high dimensions
  • 2 (2/3) Centrality measures
  • 3 (9/3) Random Graph Models
  • 4 (16/3) Random Graphs vs. Complex Networks
  • 5 (23/3) Mechanistic models: small world and preferential attachment
  • 6 (30/3) Exponential Random Graph Models
  • 7 (6/4) Community Detection in Networks

(Mid-semester break)

  • 8 (20/4) Stochastic Block Models
  • 9 (27/4) Inference in high dimensions
  • 10 (4/5) Network Resilience
  • 11 (11/5) Cascades and spreading in Networks
  • 12 (18/5) Dynamical systems in Networks
  • 13 (25/5) Project presentation and Exam preparation