An ensemble perspective on multi-layer networks

Nicolas Wider, Antonios Garas, Ingo Scholtes and Frank Schweitzer

Interconnected Networks (2016)


We study properties of multi-layered, interconnected networks from an ensemble perspective, i.e. we analyze ensembles of multi-layer networks that share similar aggregate characteristics. Using a diffusive process that evolves on a multi-layer network, we analyze how the speed of diffusion depends on the aggregate characteristics of both intra- and inter-layer connectivity. Through a block-matrix model representing the distinct layers, we construct transition matrices of random walkers on multi-layer networks, and estimate expected properties of multi-layer networks using a mean-field approach. In addition, we quantify and explore conditions on the link topology that allow to estimate the ensemble average by only considering aggregate statistics of the layers. Our approach can be used when only partial information is available, like it is usually the case for real-world multi-layer complex systems.