Epidemic spreading on time-varying multiplex networks

Quan-Hui Liu, Xinyue Xiong, Qian Zhang, and Nicola Perra
Phys. Rev. E
98, 062303
December 3, 2018


Social interactions are stratified in multiple contexts and are subject to complex temporal dynamics. The systematic study of these two features of social systems has started only very recently, mainly thanks to the development of multiplex and time-varying networks. However, these two advancements have progressed almost in parallel with very little overlap. Thus, the interplay between multiplexity and the temporal nature of connectivity patterns is poorly understood. Here, we aim to tackle this limitation by introducing a time-varying model of multiplex networks. We are interested in characterizing how these two properties affect contagion processes. To this end, we study susceptible-infected-susceptible epidemic models unfolding at comparable timescale with respect to the evolution of the multiplex network. We study both analytically and numerically the epidemic threshold as a function of the multiplexity and the features of each layer. We found that higher values of multiplexity significantly reduce the epidemic threshold especially when the temporal activation patterns of nodes present on multiple layers are positively correlated. Furthermore, when the average connectivity across layers is very different, the contagion dynamics is driven by the features of the more densely connected layer. Here, the epidemic threshold is equivalent to that of a single layered graph and the impact of the disease, in the layer driving the contagion, is independent of the multiplexity. However, this is not the case in the other layers where the spreading dynamics is sharply influenced by it. The results presented provide another step towards the characterization of the properties of real networks and their effects on contagion phenomena.

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