5 Best Ways to Reshape a NetworkX Graph in Python

Rate this post

πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When working with NetworkX in Python, data scientists and network analysts may encounter the need to reshape graphs. This could mean altering the layout, adding or subtracting nodes or edges, or changing attributes. For example, one might start with a linear graph but needs to transform it into a circular layout for better visualization or analysis. This article explores effective methods for reshaping NetworkX graphs to achieve the desired output.

Method 1: Changing Graph Layout

NetworkX provides various layout algorithms that allow us to position nodes of a graph in two-dimensional space for better visualization. Adjusting the layout of a NetworkX graph can often provide new insights into the underlying structure and connections within the data.

Here’s an example:

import networkx as nx
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

G = nx.path_graph(5)
pos = nx.circular_layout(G)

nx.draw(G, pos)

Output: A circular layout of the originally linear path graph.

This code snippet first creates a linear path graph with five nodes, then uses NetworkX’s circular_layout() function to compute the circular positions of each node in the graph. Finally, it visualizes the reshaped graph using the computed positions with matplotlib’s plt.show().

Method 2: Subgraph Extraction

Extracting a subgraph can be useful for focusing on a particular portion of a larger network. This is accomplished by creating a new graph consisting only of a subset of nodes and the edges between them.

Here’s an example:

G = nx.path_graph(6)
H = G.subgraph([0, 1, 2, 3])


Output: [(0, 1), (1, 2), (2, 3)]

In this example, we take a subgraph of the first four nodes from a linear path graph and print the edges of the new subgraph. The subgraph() method returns a view that behaves like the original graph but only contains the specified nodes and their connecting edges.

Method 3: Adding and Removing Nodes and Edges

Reshaping a graph often involves adding or removing nodes and edges. NetworkX provides simple methods to perform these operations, making it possible to dynamically adjust the graph’s structure.

Here’s an example:

G = nx.path_graph(3)
G.add_edge(0, 3)


Output: [(0, 1), (0, 3)]

This snippet demonstrates adding an edge between nodes 0 and 3 and then removing node 2 from the graph. The result is a graph that has been reshaped by these modifications, as verified by printing the list of edges remaining in the graph.

Method 4: Edge Contraction

Edge contraction involves merging two nodes into one, which can simplify the graph while preserving its connectivity. This method is particularly useful for reducing complexity and highlighting specific features of the graph.

Here’s an example:

G = nx.path_graph(4)
G = nx.contracted_nodes(G, 1, 2, self_loops=False)


Output: [(0, 1), (1, 3)]

By contracting nodes 1 and 2 into a single node, we simplify the path graph to have one less node. The function contracted_nodes() performs this action, and the self_loops=False parameter ensures that no self-loops are created during the process.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Graph Complementation

Creating a complement of a graph can be achieved with a single line of code using NetworkX. This reversed graph contains the same nodes, but only the edges that are not present in the original graph.

Here’s an example:

C = nx.complement(G)

Output: [(0, 2), (1, 2)]

The example starts with a simple path graph, computes its complement, and then prints out the edges of the new graph. This process provides a quick and straightforward way to view the inverse relationships in a network.


Method 1: Changing Graph Layout. Strengthens visualization. Can be limited by the kinds of layouts provided. May not reveal structural changes.
Method 2: Subgraph Extraction. Good for focusing on specific parts of a graph. May remove important context by excluding nodes and edges.
Method 3: Adding and Removing Nodes and Edges. Highly flexible method to adjust the graph structure. Can make the graph more complex.
Method 4: Edge Contraction. Simplifies the graph to highlight features. Can potentially oversimplify and lose information.
Method 5: Graph Complementation. Quick and easy to see inverse relationships. Does not offer nuanced control. Might not be informative for dense graphs.