Suppression of epidemic spreading in time-varying multiplex networks

Hui Yang, Changgui Gu, Ming Tang, Shi Min Cai, Ying Cheng Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Suppressing and preventing epidemic spreading is of critical importance to the well being of the human society. To uncover phenomena that can guide control and management of epidemics is thus of significant value. An understanding of epidemic spreading dynamics in the real world requires the following two ingredients. Firstly, a multiplex network description is necessary, because information diffusion in the virtual communication layer of the individuals can affect the disease spreading dynamics in the physical contact layer, and vice versa. The interaction between the dynamical processes in the two layers is typically asymmetric. Secondly, both network layers are in general time varying. In spite of the large body of literature on spreading dynamics in complex networks, the effect of the asymmetrical interaction between information diffusion and epidemic spreading in activity-driven, time-varying multiplex networks have not been understood. We address this problem by developing a general theory based on the approach of microscopic Markov chain, which enables us to predict the epidemic threshold and the final infection density in the physical layer, on which the information diffusion process in the virtual layer can have a significant effect. The focus of our study is on uncovering and understanding mechanisms to inhibit physical disease spreading. We find that stronger heterogeneity in the individual activities and a smaller contact capacity in the communication layer can promote the inhibitory effect. A remarkable phenomenon is that an enhanced positive correlation between the activities in the two layers can greatly suppress the spreading dynamics, suggesting a practical and effective approach to controlling epidemics in the real world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)806-818
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Mathematical Modelling
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Epidemic spreading
  • Microscopic Markov chain
  • Multiplex network
  • Time-varying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Applied Mathematics


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