Temporal Network Prediction and Interpretation

Li Zou, Xiu xiu Zhan, Jie Sun, Alan Hanjalic, Huijuan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Downloads (Pure)


Temporal networks refer to networks like physical contact networks whose topology changes over time. Predicting future temporal network is crucial e.g., to forecast the epidemics. Existing prediction methods are either relatively accurate but black-box, or white-box but less accurate. The lack of interpretable and accurate prediction methods motivates us to explore what intrinsic properties/mechanisms facilitate the prediction of temporal networks. We use interpretable learning algorithms, Lasso Regression and Random Forest, to predict, based on the current activities (i.e., connected or not) of all links, the activity of each link at the next time step. From the coefficients learned from each algorithm, we construct the prediction backbone network that presents the influence of all links in determining each links future activity. Analysis of the backbone, its relation to the link activity time series and to the time aggregated network reflects which properties of temporal networks are captured by the learning algorithms. Via six real-world contact networks, we find that the next step activity of a particular link is mainly influenced by (a) its current activity and (b) links strongly correlated in the time series to that particular link and close in distance (in hops) in the aggregated network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1215-1224
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Epidemics
  • link prediction
  • Machine learning algorithms
  • Network topology
  • Prediction algorithms
  • prediction backbone network
  • Random forests
  • temporal network
  • Time series analysis
  • Training


Dive into the research topics of 'Temporal Network Prediction and Interpretation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this