How to visualize hypergraphs with Python and networkx 

How to visualize hypergraphs with Python and networkx 

An easy method to draw some hypergraphs via standard graph visualization libraries.

Graphs are awesome, hypergraphs are hyperawesome! Hypergraphs are a generalization of graphs where one relaxes the requirement for edges to connect just two nodes and allows instead edges to connect multiple nodes. They are a very natural framework in which to formulate and solve problems in a wide variety of fields, ranging from genetics to social sciences, physics, and more! But whereas for manipulating and visualizing graphs there are many mature Python libraries, the same cannot be said for hypergraphs.

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A graph vs a Hypergraph —Image by the Author

I recently needed to visualize some hypergraphs and could not find any library which satisfied me; moreover, as far as I could see, all of them were representing hypergraphs via Euler diagrams (i.e., like the hand-drawn hypergraph above). Unfortunately, this method was not producing good plots for my use case; what I ended up doing was to represent a hypergraph as a collection of graphs, and plotting them via the awesome networkx library.

I decided to write about my approach to plotting hypergraphs, as it produces quite interesting plots for the kind of data I am looking at lately (essentially Ising models, but containing many body interactions too), and, with some adaptations, it could be of some help to others struggling with hypergraph visualization tasks.

data-science python hypergraph

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