Unfolding the multiscale structure of networks with dynamical Ollivier-Ricci curvature

Nat Commun. 2021 Jul 27;12(1):4561. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24884-1.


Describing networks geometrically through low-dimensional latent metric spaces has helped design efficient learning algorithms, unveil network symmetries and study dynamical network processes. However, latent space embeddings are limited to specific classes of networks because incompatible metric spaces generally result in information loss. Here, we study arbitrary networks geometrically by defining a dynamic edge curvature measuring the similarity between pairs of dynamical network processes seeded at nearby nodes. We show that the evolution of the curvature distribution exhibits gaps at characteristic timescales indicating bottleneck-edges that limit information spreading. Importantly, curvature gaps are robust to large fluctuations in node degrees, encoding communities until the phase transition of detectability, where spectral and node-clustering methods fail. Using this insight, we derive geometric modularity to find multiscale communities based on deviations from constant network curvature in generative and real-world networks, significantly outperforming most previous methods. Our work suggests using network geometry for studying and controlling the structure of and information spreading on networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't