Community Structure in Time-Dependent, Multiscale, and Multiplex Networks

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Science  14 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5980, pp. 876-878
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184819

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Network Notation

Networks are often characterized by clusters of constituents that interact more closely with each other and have more connections to one another than they do with the rest of the components of the network. However, systematically identifying and studying such community structure in complicated networks is not easy, especially when the network interactions change over time or contain multiple types of connections, as seen in many biological regulatory networks or social networks. Mucha et al. (p. 876) developed a mathematical method to allow detection of communities that may be critical functional units of such networks. Application to real-world tasks—like making sense of the voting record in the U.S. Senate—demonstrated the promise of the method.


Network science is an interdisciplinary endeavor, with methods and applications drawn from across the natural, social, and information sciences. A prominent problem in network science is the algorithmic detection of tightly connected groups of nodes known as communities. We developed a generalized framework of network quality functions that allowed us to study the community structure of arbitrary multislice networks, which are combinations of individual networks coupled through links that connect each node in one network slice to itself in other slices. This framework allows studies of community structure in a general setting encompassing networks that evolve over time, have multiple types of links (multiplexity), and have multiple scales.

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