PageRank and rank-reversal dependence on the damping factor

Seung-Woo Son
(Complexity Science Group, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary)

PageRank (PR) is an algorithm originally developed by Google to evaluate the importance of web pages. Considering how deeply rooted Google's PR algorithm is to gathering relevant information or to the success of modern businesses, the question of rank-stability and choice of the damping factor (a parameter in the algorithm) is clearly important. We investigate PR as a function of the damping factor d on a network obtained from a domain of the World Wide Web, finding that rank-reversal happens frequently over a broad range of PR (and of d). We use three different correlation measures, Pearson, Spearman, and Kendall, to study rank-reversal as d changes, and show that the correlation of PR vectors drops rapidly as d changes from its frequently cited value, $d_0=0.85$. Rank-reversal is also observed by measuring the Spearman and Kendall rank correlation, which evaluate relative ranks rather than absolute PR. Rank-reversal happens not only in directed networks containing rank-sinks but also in a single strongly connected component, which by definition does not contain any sinks. We relate rank-reversals to rank-pockets and bottlenecks in the directed network structure. For the network studied, the relative rank is more stable by our measures around $d=0.65$ than at $d=d_0$.