Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Spatial onomastic network of China

In December 2018, the article "Regional surname affinity: A spatial network approach" has been published at American Journal of Physical Anthropology (DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23755).

The authors investigate surname affinities among areas of modern‐day China, by constructing a spatial network, and making community detection. It reports a geographical genealogy of the Chinese population that is result of population origins, historical migrations, and societal evolutions.

The researchers acquired data from the census records supplied by China's National Citizen Identity Information System, including the surname and regional information of 1.28 billion registered Chinese citizens. They proposed a multilayer minimum spanning tree (MMST) to construct a spatial network based on the matrix of isonymic distances, which is often used to characterize the dissimilarity of surname structure among areas. They also use the fast unfolding algorithm to detect network communities.

By doing so, the scholars obtained a 10‐layer MMST network of 362 prefecture nodes and 3,610 edges derived from the matrix of the Euclidean distances among these areas. These prefectures are divided into eight groups in the spatial network via community detection. They measured the partition by comparing the inter‐distances and intra‐distances of the communities and obtained meaningful regional ethnicity classification.

The visualization of the resulting communities on the map indicates that the prefectures in the same community are usually geographically adjacent. The formation of this partition is influenced by geographical factors, historic migrations, trade and economic factors, as well as isolation of culture and language. The MMST algorithm proves to be effective in geo‐genealogy and ethnicity classification for it retains essential information about surname affinity and highlights the geographical consanguinity of the population.

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