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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 31;9(1):e86028. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086028. eCollection 2014.

Detecting the community structure and activity patterns of temporal networks: a non-negative tensor factorization approach.

Author information

1
Data Science Laboratory, ISI Foundation, Torino, Italy.

Abstract

The increasing availability of temporal network data is calling for more research on extracting and characterizing mesoscopic structures in temporal networks and on relating such structure to specific functions or properties of the system. An outstanding challenge is the extension of the results achieved for static networks to time-varying networks, where the topological structure of the system and the temporal activity patterns of its components are intertwined. Here we investigate the use of a latent factor decomposition technique, non-negative tensor factorization, to extract the community-activity structure of temporal networks. The method is intrinsically temporal and allows to simultaneously identify communities and to track their activity over time. We represent the time-varying adjacency matrix of a temporal network as a three-way tensor and approximate this tensor as a sum of terms that can be interpreted as communities of nodes with an associated activity time series. We summarize known computational techniques for tensor decomposition and discuss some quality metrics that can be used to tune the complexity of the factorized representation. We subsequently apply tensor factorization to a temporal network for which a ground truth is available for both the community structure and the temporal activity patterns. The data we use describe the social interactions of students in a school, the associations between students and school classes, and the spatio-temporal trajectories of students over time. We show that non-negative tensor factorization is capable of recovering the class structure with high accuracy. In particular, the extracted tensor components can be validated either as known school classes, or in terms of correlated activity patterns, i.e., of spatial and temporal coincidences that are determined by the known school activity schedule.

PMID:
24497935
PMCID:
PMC3908891
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0086028
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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