Discovering underlying dynamics in time series of networks

by   Avanti Athreya, et al.

Understanding dramatic changes in the evolution of networks is central to statistical network inference, as underscored by recent challenges of predicting and distinguishing pandemic-induced transformations in organizational and communication networks. We consider a joint network model in which each node has an associated time-varying low-dimensional latent vector of feature data, and connection probabilities are functions of these vectors. Under mild assumptions, the time-varying evolution of the constellation of latent vectors exhibits low-dimensional manifold structure under a suitable notion of distance. This distance can be approximated by a measure of separation between the observed networks themselves, and there exist consistent Euclidean representations for underlying network structure, as characterized by this distance, at any given time. These Euclidean representations permit the visualization of network evolution and transform network inference questions such as change-point and anomaly detection into a classical setting. We illustrate our methodology with real and synthetic data, and identify change points corresponding to massive shifts in pandemic policies in a communication network of a large organization.


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