The Role of Community Mixing Styles in Shaping Epidemic Behaviors in Weighted Networks

Min, Yong; Jin, Xiaogang; Ge, Ying; Chang, Jie
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The dynamics of infectious diseases that are spread through direct contact have been proven to depend on the strength of community structure or modularity within the underlying network. It has been recently shown that weighted networks with similar modularity values may exhibit different mixing styles regarding the number of connections among communities and their respective weights. However, the effect of mixing style on epidemic behavior was still unclear. In this paper, we simulate the spread of disease within networks with different mixing styles: a dense-weak style (i.e., many edges among the communities with small weights) and a sparse-strong style (i.e., a few edges among the communities with large weights). Simulation results show that, with the same modularity: 1) the mixing style significantly influences the epidemic size, speed, pattern and immunization strategy; 2) the increase of the number of communities amplifies the effect of the mixing style; 3) when the mixing style changes from sparse-strong to dense-weak, there is a ‘saturation point’, after which the epidemic size and pattern become stable. We also provide a mean-field solution of the epidemic threshold and size on weighted community networks with arbitrary external and internal degree distribution. The solution explains the effect of the second moment of the degree distribution, and a symmetric effect of internal and external connections (incl. degree distribution and weight). Our study has both potential significance for designing more accurate metrics for the community structure and exploring diffusion dynamics on metapopulation networks.


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