Contagion Maps for Manifold Learning

12 June 2020
Barbara Mahler

Contagion maps are a family of maps that map nodes of a network to points in a high-dimensional space, based on the activations times in a threshold contagion on the network. A point cloud that is the image of such a map reflects both the structure underlying the network and the spreading behaviour of the contagion on it. Intuitively, such a point cloud exhibits features of the network's underlying structure if the contagion spreads along that structure, an observation which suggests contagion maps as a viable manifold-learning technique. We test contagion maps as a manifold-learning tool on several different data sets, and compare its performance to that of Isomap, one of the most well-known manifold-learning algorithms. We find that, under certain conditions, contagion maps are able to reliably detect underlying manifold structure in noisy data, when Isomap is prone to noise-induced error. This consolidates contagion maps as a technique for manifold learning. 

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  • Applied Topology Seminar