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Optimal timescale for community detection in growing networks


Medo, Matus; Zeng, An; Zhang, Yi-Cheng; Mariani, Manuel S (2019). Optimal timescale for community detection in growing networks. New Journal of Physics, 21(9):093066.

Abstract

Time-stamped data are increasingly available for many social, economic, and information systems that can be represented as networks growing with time. The World Wide Web, social contact networks, and citation networks of scientific papers and online news articles, for example, are of this kind. Static methods can be inadequate for the analysis of growing networks as they miss essential information on the system's dynamics. At the same time, time-aware methods require the choice of an observation timescale, yet we lack principled ways to determine it. We focus on the popular community detection problem which aims to partition a network's nodes into meaningful groups. We use a multi-layer quality function to show, on both synthetic and real datasets, that the observation timescale that leads to optimal communities is tightly related to the system's intrinsic aging timescale that can be inferred from the time-stamped network data. The use of temporal information leads to drastically different conclusions on the community structure of real information networks, which challenges the current understanding of the large-scale organization of growing networks. Our findings indicate that before attempting to assess structural patterns of evolving networks, it is vital to uncover the timescales of the dynamical processes that generated them.

Abstract

Time-stamped data are increasingly available for many social, economic, and information systems that can be represented as networks growing with time. The World Wide Web, social contact networks, and citation networks of scientific papers and online news articles, for example, are of this kind. Static methods can be inadequate for the analysis of growing networks as they miss essential information on the system's dynamics. At the same time, time-aware methods require the choice of an observation timescale, yet we lack principled ways to determine it. We focus on the popular community detection problem which aims to partition a network's nodes into meaningful groups. We use a multi-layer quality function to show, on both synthetic and real datasets, that the observation timescale that leads to optimal communities is tightly related to the system's intrinsic aging timescale that can be inferred from the time-stamped network data. The use of temporal information leads to drastically different conclusions on the community structure of real information networks, which challenges the current understanding of the large-scale organization of growing networks. Our findings indicate that before attempting to assess structural patterns of evolving networks, it is vital to uncover the timescales of the dynamical processes that generated them.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
08 Research Priority Programs > Social Networks
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Physics and Astronomy
Language:English
Date:30 September 2019
Deposited On:13 Sep 2019 09:07
Last Modified:21 Jun 2020 22:06
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:1367-2630
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/ab413f
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:18212

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