Abstract: Many real world, complex phenomena have underlying structures of evolving networks where nodes and links are added and removed over time. A central scientific challenge is the description and explanation of network dynamics, with a key test being the prediction of short and long term changes. For the problem of short-term link prediction, existing methods attempt to determine neighborhood metrics that correlate with the appearance of a link in the next observation period. Recent work has suggested that the incorporation of user-specific metadata and usage patterns can improve link prediction, however methodologies for doing so in a systematic way are largely unexplored in the literature. Here, we provide an approach to predicting future links by applying an evolutionary algorithm to weights which are used in a linear combination of sixteen neighborhood and node similarity indices. We examine Twitter reciprocal reply networks constructed at the time scale of weeks, both as a test of our general method and as a problem of scientific interest in itself. Our evolved predictors exhibit a thousand-fold improvement over random link prediction with high levels of precision for the top twenty predicted links, to our knowledge strongly outperforming all extant methods. Based on our findings, we suggest possible factors which may be driving the evolution of Twitter reciprocal reply networks.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).