Network science is a field of study that provides concepts and tools that enables us to explore the role of connectivity in how systems form, grow, evolve, and dissolve. To understand complex systems, it is useful to operationalize them networks, where interactions between its elements are represented as connections.  Network models are used to characterize, model and predict how patterns of connectivity influence the system’s function and behavior.  

The last thirty years of network science have witnessed formidable advances in our understanding of the emergence of networked structures and of the processes occurring on networks. While it has always been understood that network systems do not live in isolation, it is only in recent years that we have the mathematical capabilities and data availability to rigorously explore the nature of ‘networks of networks’.  Multilayer network science refers to the set of tools and theories used to model interactions between multiple networks, or layers of networks.

These tools are relevant for modeling systems that involve multiple types of connections, networks that contain multiple modalities, or networks that change over time. Multilayer network processes are common to virtually all complex systems across domains — from infrastructure networks formed by systems such as the power grid, the Internet, and financial markets, to multiple social and communication networks, to the brain and biological networks of the cell.  making multilayer. Just as we cannot fully understand the living cell if we do not integrate information from all of its biological components, the function of one network with a system is often interdependent on the function of one or many other interdependent, co-evolving networks.

The set of scientific projects will directly address technical areas identified as critical for the advance of our understanding of multilayer networks. The team of experts has identified major research topics, which can be divided into Methodology and Applications based inquires.

Methodological-based inquiries

  • temporal networks, higher-order networks, simplicial complexes,
  • representations (embeddings) of multilayer networks in vector space,
  • attributional information-richness,
  • reaction-diffusion processes in multilayer spreading phenomena

Application-based inquiries

  • characterization and modeling of social multiplex systems
  • multi-omics biological analyses (genetics, genomics, metabolics, etc)
  • epidemiological resilience management

What is multilayer network science?

Many networks do not live in isolation, instead they interact with one another, as layers of a network of networks, dubbed multilayer (or multilevel) networks.

  • multiple types of connections (called “multiplexity”), for example, family, friends, doctor-patient, commander-subordinate are all social ties but are functionally quite different across type of relationships
  • multiple modalities (cognitive, informational, sociological, geo-spatial, technological, and ecological often exist and function interactively in human systems
  • multiple temporal scales, each system may function at dramatically different timescales, with vastly different dynamical processes, such as growth, decay and evolution.


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