The topology of any complex system is key to understanding its structure and function. Fundamentally, algebraic topology guarantees that any system represented by a network can be understood through its closed paths. The length of each path provides a notion of scale, which is vitally important in characterizing dominant modes of system behavior. Here, by combining topology with scale, we prove the existence of universal features which reveal the dominant scales of any network. We use these features to compare several canonical network types in the context of a social media discussion which evolves through the sharing of rumors, leaks and other news. Our analysis enables for the first time a universal understanding of the balance between loops and tree-like structure across network scales, and an assessment of how this balance interacts with the spreading of information online. Crucially, our results allow networks to be quantified and compared in a purely model-free way that is theoretically sound, fully automated, and inherently scalable.
This work is joint with Patrick Wolfe.
Sofia is a professor of Statistics, an honorary professor of Computer Science and a senior research associate of Mathematics at University College London. She joined UCL in 2007, before which she was a senior lecturer of statistics (associate professor) at Imperial College London (2006-2007), a lecturer of statistics (assistant professor) (2002-2006), where she also completed her PhD in 2003 and MSci in 2000. She has held three research fellowships while at UCL: UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Springboard fellowship as well as a five-year Leadership fellowship, and now holds a European Research Council Consolidator fellowship. Sofia has contributed to the study of stochastic processes; time series, random fields and networks. She is on the ICMS Programme Committee since September 2008, a member of the London Mathematical Society Research Meetings Committee, a member of the London Mathematical Society Research Policy Committee and an associate Editor for Transactions in Mathematics and its Applications. Sofia is also a member of the Royal Society and British Academy Data Governance Working Group, and the Royal Society working group on machine learning.