Abstracts and related figures

Maps of information flow reveal community structure in complex networks Martin Rosvall and Carl T. Bergstrom PNAS 105, 1118 (2008) [pdf]. [arXiv:0707.0609]

To comprehend the multipartite organization of large-scale biological and social systems, we introduce a new information-theoretic approach to reveal community structure in weighted and directed networks. The method decomposes a network into modules by optimally compressing a description of information flows on the network. The result is a map that both simplifies and highlights the regularities in the structure and their relationships to each other. We illustrate the method by making a map of scientific communication as captured in the citation patterns of more than 6000 journals. We discover a multicentric organization with fields that vary dramatically in size and degree of integration into the network of science. Along the backbone of the network — which includes physics, chemistry, molecular biology, and medicine — information flows bidirectionally, but the map reveals a directional pattern of citation from the applied fields to the basic sciences.

The map equation Martin Rosvall, Daniel Axelsson and Carl T. Bergstrom Eur. Phys. J. Special Topics 178, 13 (2009) [pdf]. [arXiv:0906.1405]

Many real-world networks are so large that we must simplify their structure before we can extract useful information about the systems they represent. As the tools for doing these simplifications proliferate within the network literature, researchers would benefit from some guidelines about which of the so-called community detection algorithms are most appropriate for the structures they are studying and the questions they are asking. Here we show that different methods highlight different aspects of a network's structure and that the the sort of information that we seek to extract about the system must guide us in our decision. For example, many community detection algorithms, including the popular modularity maximization approach, infer module assignments from an underlying model of the network formation process. However, we are not always as interested in how a system's network structure was formed, as we are in how a network's extant structure influences the system's behavior. To see how structure influences current behavior, we will recognize that links in a network induce movement across the network and result in system-wide interdependence. In doing so, we explicitly acknowledge that most networks carry flow. To highlight and simplify the network structure with respect to this flow, we use the map equation. We present an intuitive derivation of this flow-based and information-theoretic method and provide an interactive on-line application that anyone can use to explore the mechanics of the map equation. The differences between the map equation and the modularity maximization approach are not merely conceptual. Because the map equation attends to patterns of flow on the network and the modularity maximization approach does not, the two methods can yield dramatically different results for some network structures. To illustrate this and build our understanding of each method, we partition several sample networks. We also describe an algorithm and provide source code to efficiently decompose large weighted and directed networks based on the map equation.

Mapping change in large networks Martin Rosvall and Carl T. Bergstrom PLoS ONE 5(1): e8694 (2010) [pdf]. [arXiv:0812.1242]

Change is the very nature of interaction patterns in biology, technology, economics, and science itself: The interactions within and between organisms change; the air, ground, and sea traffic change; the global financial flow changes; the scientific research front changes. With increasingly available data, networks and clustering tools have become important methods used to comprehend instances of these large-scale structures. But blind to the difference between noise and trends in the data, these tools alone must fail when used to study change. Only if we can assign significance to the partition of single networks can we distinguish structural changes from fluctuations and assess how much confidence we should have in the changes. Here we show that bootstrap resampling accompanied by significance clustering provides a solution to this problem. We use the significance clustering to realize de Solla Price's vision of mapping the change in science.

Multilevel compression of random walks on networks reveals hierarchical organization in large integrated systems Martin Rosvall and Carl T. Bergstrom PLoS ONE 6(4): e18209 (2011) [pdf]. [arXiv:1010.0431]

To comprehend the hierarchical organization of large integrated systems, we introduce the hierarchical map equation that reveals multilevel structures in networks. In this information-theoretic approach, we exploit the duality between compression and pattern detection; by compressing a description of a random walker as a proxy for real flow on a network, we find regularities in the network that induce this system-wide flow. Finding the shortest multilevel description of the random walker therefore gives us the best hierarchical clustering of the network — the optimal number of levels and modular partition at each level — with respect to the dynamics on the network. With a novel search algorithm, we extract and illustrate the rich multilevel organization of several large social and biological networks. For example, from the global air traffic network we uncover countries and continents, and from the pattern of scientific communication we reveal more than 100 scientific fields organized in four major disciplines: life sciences, physical sciences, ecology and earth sciences, and social sciences. In general, we find shallow hierarchical structures in globally interconnected systems, such as neural networks, and rich multilevel organizations in systems with highly separated regions, such as road networks.

Compression of flow can reveal overlapping modular organization in networks Alcides Viamontes Esquivel and Martin Rosvall Phys. Rev. X 1, 021025 (2011) [pdf]. [arXiv:1105.0812]

To better understand the organization of overlapping modules in large networks with respect to flow, we introduce the map equation for overlapping modules. In this information-theoretic framework, we use the correspondence between compression and regularity detection. The generalized map equation measures how well we can compress a description of flow in the network when we partition it into modules with possible overlaps. When we minimize the generalized map equation over overlapping network partitions, we detect modules that capture flow and determine which nodes at the boundaries between modules should be classified in multiple modules and to what degree. With a novel greedy-search algorithm, we find that some networks, for example, the neural network of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, are best described by modules dominated by hard boundaries, but that others, for example, the sparse European-roads network, have an organization of highly overlapping modules.

Ranking and clustering of nodes in networks with smart teleportation Renaud Lambiotte and Martin Rosvall Phys. Rev. E 85, 056107 (2012) [pdf]. [arXiv:1112.5252]

Random teleportation is a necessary evil for ranking and clustering directed networks based on random walks. Teleportation enables ergodic solutions, but the solutions must necessarily depend on the exact implementation and parametrization of the teleportation. For example, in the commonly used PageRank algorithm, the teleportation rate must trade off a heavily biased solution with a uniform solution. Here we show that teleportation to links rather than nodes enables a much smoother trade-off and effectively more robust results. We also show that, by not recording the teleportation steps of the random walker, we can further reduce the effect of teleportation with dramatic effects on clustering.

Memory in network flows and its effects on spreading dynamics and community detection Martin Rosvall, Alcides V. Esquivel, Andrea Lancichinetti, Jevin D. West, and Renaud Lambiotte Nature Comm. 5, 4630 (2014) [pdf]. [arXiv:1305.4807] « Interactive storyboard »

Random walks on networks is the standard tool for modelling spreading processes in social and biological systems. This first-order Markov approach is used in conventional community detection, ranking and spreading analysis, although it ignores a potentially important feature of the dynamics: where flow moves to may depend on where it comes from. Here we analyse pathways from different systems, and although we only observe marginal consequences for disease spreading, we show that ignoring the effects of second-order Markov dynamics has important consequences for community detection, ranking and information spreading. For example, capturing dynamics with a second-order Markov model allows us to reveal actual travel patterns in air traffic and to uncover multidisciplinary journals in scientific communication. These findings were achieved only by using more available data and making no additional assumptions, and therefore suggest that accounting for higher-order memory in network flows can help us better understand how real systems are organized and function.

Estimating the resolution limit of the map equation in community detection Tatsuro Kawamoto and Martin Rosvall Phys Rev E 91, 012809 (2015) [pdf]. [arXiv:1402.4385]

A community detection algorithm is considered to have a resolution limit if the scale of the smallest modules that can be resolved depends on the size of the analyzed subnetwork. The resolution limit is known to prevent some community detection algorithms from accurately identifying the modular structure of a network. In fact, any global objective function for measuring the quality of a two-level assignment of nodes into modules must have some sort of resolution limit or an external resolution parameter. However, it is yet unknown how the resolution limit affects the so-called map equation, which is known to be an efficient objective function for community detection. We derive an analytical estimate and conclude that the resolution limit of the map equation is set by the total number of links between modules instead of the total number of links in the full network as for modularity. This mechanism makes the resolution limit much less restrictive for the map equation than for modularity; in practice, it is orders of magnitudes smaller. Furthermore, we argue that the effect of the resolution limit often results from shoehorning multilevel modular structures into two-level descriptions. As we show, the hierarchical map equation effectively eliminates the resolution limit for networks with nested multilevel modular structures.

Identifying modular flows on multilayer networks reveals highly overlapping organization in interconnected systems Manlio De Domenico, Andrea Lancichinetti, Alex Arenas, and Martin Rosvall Phys Rev X 5, 011027 (2015) [pdf]. [arXiv:1408.2925] « Interactive storyboard »

To comprehend interconnected systems across the social and natural sciences, researchers have developed many powerful methods to identify functional modules. For example, with interaction data aggregated into a single network layer, flow-based methods have proven useful for identifying modular dynamics in weighted and directed networks that capture constraints on flow processes. However, many interconnected systems consist of agents or components that exhibit multiple layers of interactions, possibly from several different processes. Inevitably, representing this intricate network of networks as a single aggregated network leads to information loss and may obscure the actual organization. Here, we propose a method based on a compression of network flows that can identify modular flows both within and across layers in nonaggregated multilayer networks. Our numerical experiments on synthetic multilayer networks, with some layers originating from the same interaction process, show that the analysis fails in aggregated networks or when treating the layers separately, whereas the multilayer method can accurately identify modules across layers that originate from the same interaction process. We capitalize on our findings and reveal the community structure of two multilayer collaboration networks with topics as layers: scientists affiliated with the Pierre Auger Observatory and scientists publishing works on networks on the arXiv. Compared to conventional aggregated methods, the multilayer method uncovers connected topics and reveals smaller modules with more overlap that better capture the actual organization.

Efficient community detection of network flows for varying Markov times and bipartite networks Masoumeh Kheirkhahzadeh, Andrea Lancichinetti, and Martin Rosvall Phys. Rev. E 93, 032309 (2016) [pdf]. [arXiv:1511.01540]

Community detection of network flows conventionally assumes one-step dynamics on the links. For sparse networks and interest in large-scale structures, longer timescales may be more appropriate. Oppositely, for large networks and interest in small-scale structures, shorter timescales may be better. However, current methods for analyzing networks at different timescales require expensive and often infeasible network reconstructions. To overcome this problem, we introduce a method that takes advantage of the inner-workings of the map equation and evades the reconstruction step. This makes it possible to efficiently analyze large networks at different Markov times with no extra overhead cost. The method also evades the costly unipartite projection for identifying flow modules in bipartite networks.

Infomap Bioregions: Interactive mapping of biogeographical regions from species distributions Daniel Edler, Thaís Guedes, Alexander Zizka, Martin Rosvall, and Alexandre Antonelli Syst. Biol. 66 (2): 197-204 (2017) [pdf]. [arXiv:1512.00892] « Interactive mapping tool »

Biogeographical regions (bioregions) reveal how different sets of species are spatially grouped and therefore are important units for conservation, historical biogeography, ecol- ogy and evolution. Several methods have been developed to identify bioregions based on species distribution data rather than expert opinion. One approach successfully applies network theory to simplify and highlight the underlying structure in species distributions. However, this method lacks tools for simple and efficient analysis. Here we present In- fomap Bioregions, an interactive web application that inputs species distribution data and generates bioregion maps. Species distributions may be provided as georeferenced point occurrences or range maps, and can be of local, regional or global scale. The application uses a novel adaptive resolution method to make best use of often incomplete species dis- tribution data. The results can be downloaded as vector graphics, shapefiles or in table format. We validate the tool by processing large datasets of publicly available species distribution data of the world’s amphibians using species ranges, and mammals using point occurrences. As examples of applications, researchers can reconstruct ancestral ranges in historical biogeography or identify indicator species for targeted conservation.

Maps of sparse Markov chains efficiently reveal community structure in network flows with memory Christian Persson, Ludvig Bohlin, Daniel Edler, and Martin Rosvall [pdf]. [arXiv:1606.08328] « Interactive map of sparse Markov chains »

To better understand the flows of ideas or information through social and biological systems, researchers develop maps that reveal important patterns in network flows. In practice, network flow models have implied memoryless first-order Markov chains, but recently researchers have introduced higher-order Markov chain models with memory to capture patterns in multi-step pathways. Higher-order models are particularly important for effectively revealing actual, overlapping community structure, but higher-order Markov chain models suffer from the curse of dimensionality: their vast parameter spaces require exponentially increasing data to avoid overfitting and therefore make mapping inefficient already for moderate-sized systems. To overcome this problem, we introduce an efficient cross-validated mapping approach based on network flows modeled by sparse Markov chains. To illustrate our approach, we present a map of citation flows in science with research fields that overlap in multidisciplinary journals. Compared with currently used categories in science of science studies, the research fields form better units of analysis because the map more effectively captures how ideas flow through science.

Mapping higher-order network flows in memory and multilayer networks with Infomap Daniel Edler, Ludvig Bohlin, and Martin Rosvall [pdf]. [arXiv:1706.04792] « Interactive map of sparse Markov chains »

Comprehending complex systems by simplifying and highlighting important dynamical patterns often require modeling and mapping of higher-order network flows. However, complex systems come in many forms and demand a range of representations, including memory and multilayer networks, which in turn call for versatile community-detection algorithms to reveal important modular regularities in the flows. We show that various higher-order network flow representations can be represented with sparse memory networks, in which the multilevel map equation can identify overlapping and nested modules that capture network flows. We derive the map equation applied to sparse memory networks and describe its search algorithm Infomap, which can exploit the flexibility of sparse memory networks. Together they provide a general solution to reveal overlapping modular patterns in higher-order flows through complex systems.