Circular Networks from Distorted Metrics

  • Sebastien RochEmail author
  • Kun-Chieh Wang
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10812)


Trees have long been used as a graphical representation of species relationships. However complex evolutionary events, such as genetic reassortments or hybrid speciations which occur commonly in viruses, bacteria and plants, do not fit into this elementary framework. Alternatively, various network representations have been developed. Circular networks are a natural generalization of leaf-labeled trees interpreted as split systems, that is, collections of bipartitions over leaf labels corresponding to current species. Although such networks do not explicitly model specific evolutionary events of interest, their straightforward visualization and fast reconstruction have made them a popular exploratory tool to detect network-like evolution in genetic datasets. Standard reconstruction methods for circular networks, such as Neighbor-Net, rely on an associated metric on the species set. Such a metric is first estimated from DNA sequences, which leads to a key difficulty: distantly related sequences produce statistically unreliable estimates. This is problematic for Neighbor-Net as it is based on the popular tree reconstruction method Neighbor-Joining, whose sensitivity to distance estimation errors is well established theoretically. In the tree case, more robust reconstruction methods have been developed using the notion of a distorted metric, which captures the dependence of the error in the distance through a radius of accuracy. Here we design the first circular network reconstruction method based on distorted metrics. Our method is computationally efficient. Moreover, the analysis of its radius of accuracy highlights the important role played by the maximum incompatibility, a measure of the extent to which the network differs from a tree.


Phylogenetic networks Circular networks Finite metrics Split decomposition Distance-based reconstruction Distorted metrics 



Work supported by NSF grants DMS-1007144, DMS-1149312 (CAREER), DMS-1614242 and CCF-1740707 (TRIPODS).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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