Simplicial Closure and Higher-order Link Prediction

by   Austin R. Benson, et al.

Networks provide a powerful formalism for modeling complex systems, by representing the underlying set of pairwise interactions. But much of the structure within these systems involves interactions that take place among more than two nodes at once; for example, communication within a group rather than person-to-person, collaboration among a team rather than a pair of co-authors, or biological interaction between a set of molecules rather than just two. We refer to these type of simultaneous interactions on sets of more than two nodes as higher-order interactions; they are ubiquitous, but the empirical study of them has lacked a general framework for evaluating higher-order models. Here we introduce such a framework, based on link prediction, a fundamental problem in network analysis. The traditional link prediction problem seeks to predict the appearance of new links in a network, and here we adapt it to predict which (larger) sets of elements will have future interactions. We study the temporal evolution of 19 datasets from a variety of domains, and use our higher-order formulation of link prediction to assess the types of structural features that are most predictive of new multi-way interactions. Among our results, we find that different domains vary considerably in their distribution of higher-order structural parameters, and that the higher-order link prediction problem exhibits some fundamental differences from traditional pairwise link prediction, with a greater role for local rather than long-range information in predicting the appearance of new interactions.


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