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This package provides a tidy API for graph/network manipulation. While network data itself is not tidy, it can be envisioned as two tidy tables, one for node data and one for edge data. tidygraph provides a way to switch between the two tables and provides dplyr verbs for manipulating them. Furthermore it provides access to a lot of graph algorithms with return values that facilitate their use in a tidy workflow.

This is a work in progress

An example


gr <- as_tbl_graph(erdos.renyi.game(10, 0.5)) %>% 
  activate(nodes) %>% 
  mutate(rand = sample(n()), even = rand %% 2 == 0) %>% 
  activate(edges) %>% 


1. Support relevant dplyr verbs

The goal is to support all verbs from dplyr that make sense, which is almost all of them. It is definitely easier to list the ones that won't get supported and describe why:

  1. All summarise functions: Summarising nodes and edges in a graph context is ill-defined as it is unclear how the resulting graph should be created. A summarise operation modifies the number of rows in the data, but unlike filtering there are no specific rows that are retained. An alternative collapse functionality is under consideration where nodes (and edges) can be merged. If data summaries are needed these can be obtained by extracting the node or edge data using as_tibble prior to using summarise (note that this will remove the graph context)

  2. do: The rationale is really just like the above - do can potentially modify the data in ways that do not make sense in a graph context. The solution is again to extract the data prior to the do call.

2. Provide Constructors for all general relational data structures

The goal is to be able to feed any relational data structure into as_tbl_graph - this entails conversion functions into igraph format, which is the underlying data structure that powers tidygraph. Currently the following is supported:

  • igraph --- well duh
  • list depending on the format it will either be parsed as an adjacency list or a list containing a nodes data frame and an edges data frame
  • data.frame parsed as an edgelist with additional edge attributes
  • matrix depending on the format it will either be parsed as a plain edgelist, an adjacency matrix, or an incidence matrix.

The following data structures are planned for support:

  • stats::hclust and stats::dendrogram
  • network::network
  • ape::phylo
  • data.tree::data.tree
  • graph::graph from bioconductor

Some of these might already work if they contain an as.igraph method as this is attempted by default.

3. Provide verbs specific to graph analysis

As discussed above, collapse could be provided to combine nodes and automatically update the edges to fit, combining parallel edges. Another plan is to provide a split_by method that creates temporary sub-graphs based on either edge or node attributes (kind of like group_by but updating the underlying graph structure as well). More ideas to come in time.

4. Provide a tidy interface to all igraph algorithms

Where it makes sense, all algorithms should get a wrapper so that it is not necessary to specify the graph object and which nodes or edges are being referenced. For example, inside a mutate call it should be possible to just call degree() and get a vector of node degrees returned in the correct order. This last point is probably where the most work is required.

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Last Published

March 6th, 2017

Functions in tidygraph (0.1.0)