Robust Temporal Graph Clustering for Group Record Linkage

  • Charini NanayakkaraEmail author
  • Peter Christen
  • Thilina Ranbaduge
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11440)


Research in the social sciences is increasingly based on large and complex data collections, where individual data sets from different domains need to be linked to allow advanced analytics. A popular type of data used in such a context are historical registries containing birth, death, and marriage certificates. Individually, such data sets however limit the types of studies that can be conducted. Specifically, it is impossible to track individuals, families, or households over time. Once such data sets are linked and family trees are available it is possible to, for example, investigate how education, health, mobility, and employment influence the lives of people over two or even more generations. The linkage of historical records is challenging because of data quality issues and because often there are no ground truth data available. Unsupervised techniques need to be employed, which generally are based on similarity graphs generated by comparing individual records. In this paper we present a novel temporal clustering approach aimed at linking records of the same group (such as all births by the same mother) where temporal constraints (such as intervals between births) need to be enforced. We combine a connected component approach with an iterative merging step which considers temporal constraints to obtain accurate clustering results. Experiments on a real Scottish data set show the superiority of our approach over a previous clustering approach for record linkage.


Entity resolution Star clustering Vital records Birth bundling 



This work was supported by ESRC grants ES/K00574X/2 Digitising Scotland and ES/L007487/1 ADRC-S. We like to thank Alice Reid of the University of Cambridge and her colleagues Ros Davies and Eilidh Garrett for their work on the Isle of Skye database, and their helpful advice on historical Scottish demography. This work was partially funded by the Australian Research Council under DP160101934.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charini Nanayakkara
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter Christen
    • 1
  • Thilina Ranbaduge
    • 1
  1. 1.Research School of Computer ScienceThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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