Unified underpinning of human mobility in the real world and cyberspace

Yi Ming Zhao, An Zeng, Xiao Yong Yan, Wen Xu Wang, Ying-Cheng Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Human movements in the real world and in cyberspace affect not only dynamical processes such as epidemic spreading and information diffusion but also social and economical activities such as urban planning and personalized recommendation in online shopping. Despite recent efforts in characterizing and modeling human behaviors in both the real and cyber worlds, the fundamental dynamics underlying human mobility have not been well understood. We develop a minimal, memory-based random walk model in limited space for reproducing, with a single parameter, the key statistical behaviors characterizing human movements in both cases. The model is validated using relatively big data from mobile phone and online commerce, suggesting memory-based random walk dynamics as the unified underpinning for human mobility, regardless of whether it occurs in the real world or in cyberspace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number053025
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Human mobility
  • Memory-based random walk
  • Scaling law

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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