A framework for the construction of generative models for mesoscale structure in multilayer networks


Bazzi, M
Jeub, L
Arenas, A
Howison, S
Porter, M

Publication Date: 

30 April 2020


Physical Review Research

Last Updated: 









Multilayer networks allow one to represent diverse and coupled connectivity patterns—such as time-dependence, multiple subsystems, or both—that arise in many applications and which are difficult or awkward to incorporate into standard network representations. In the study of multilayer networks, it is important to investigate mesoscale (i.e., intermediate-scale) structures, such as dense sets of nodes known as communities, to discover network features that are not apparent at the microscale or the macroscale. The ill-defined nature of mesoscale structure and its ubiquity in empirical networks make it crucial to develop generative models that can produce the features that one encounters in empirical networks. Key purposes of such models include generating synthetic networks with empirical properties of interest, benchmarking mesoscale-detection methods and algorithms, and inferring structure in empirical multilayer networks. In this paper, we introduce a framework for the construction of generative models for mesoscale structures in multilayer networks. Our framework provides a standardized set of generative models, together with an associated set of principles from which they are derived, for studies of mesoscale structures in multilayer networks. It unifies and generalizes many existing models for mesoscale structures in fully ordered (e.g., temporal) and unordered (e.g., multiplex) multilayer networks. One can also use it to construct generative models for mesoscale structures in partially ordered multilayer networks (e.g., networks that are both temporal and multiplex). Our framework has the ability to produce many features of empirical multilayer networks, and it explicitly incorporates a user-specified dependency structure between layers. We discuss the parameters and properties of our framework, and we illustrate examples of its use with benchmark models for community-detection methods and algorithms in multilayer networks.

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Publication Type: 

Journal Article