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This paper presents several measures of fairness and inequality based on the degree
distribution in networks, as alternatives to the well-established power-law exponent.
Networks such as social networks, communication networks and the World
Wide Web itself are often characterized by their unequal distribution of
edges: Few nodes are attached to many edges, while many nodes are
attached to only few edges. The inequality of such network structures is
typically measured using the power-law exponent, stating that the number of
nodes with a given degree is proportional to that degree taken to a
certain exponent. However, this approach has several weaknesses, such
as its narrow applicability and expensive computational complexity.
Beyond the fact that power laws are by far not a
universal phenomenon on the Web, the power-law exponent has the
surprising property of being negatively correlated with the usual
notion of inequality, making it unintuitive as a fairness measure. As
alternatives, we propose several measures based on the Lorenz curve,
which is used in economics but rarely in networks study, and on the
information-theoretical concept of entropy. We show in experiments on a
large collection of online networks that these measures do not suffer under
the drawbacks of the power-law exponent.