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Maps of Random Walks on Complex Networks Reveal Community Structure

Martin Rosvall and Carl T. Bergstrom
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 105, No. 4 (Jan. 29, 2008), pp. 1118-1123
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25451237
Page Count: 6
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Maps of Random Walks on Complex Networks Reveal Community Structure
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Abstract

To comprehend the multipartite organization of large-scale biological and social systems, we introduce an information theoretic approach that reveals community structure in weighted and directed networks. We use the probability flow of random walks on a network as a proxy for information flows in the real system and decompose the network into modules by compressing a description of the probability flow. The result is a map that both simplifies and highlights the regularities in the structure and their relationships. We illustrate the method by making a map of scientific communication as captured in the citation patterns of >6,000 journals. We discover a multicentric organization with fields that vary dramatically in size and degree of integration into the network of science. Along the backbone of the network-including physics, chemistry, molecular biology, and medicine-information flows bidirectionally, but the map reveals a directional pattern of citation from the applied fields to the basic sciences.

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