Contagion on Networks 2017

The Contagion on Networks satellite symposium is a satellite of the International School and Conference on Network Science in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 20th, 2017 and is focused on the dynamics of contagion (i.e., the spread of ideas and/or diseases between individuals).

Symposium Description


Antoine Allard (Centre de Recerca Matemàtica)
Benjamin M. Althouse (Institute for Disease Modeling)
Laurent Hébert-Dufresne (Santa Fe Institute)
Samuel V. Scarpino (University of Vermont)

Important dates

March 12, 2017: Satellite abstract submission deadline
March 26, 2017: Acceptance Notifications
May 4, 2017: NetSci early Registration deadline
June 20th, 2017: Satellite Symposium

Background and Overview

The dynamics of contagion (i.e., the spread of ideas and/or diseases between individuals) are shaped by the networked structure of host populations. Whether the contagion travels quickly through an effectively static network or moves more slowly and thus encounters spatiotemporal variation in the networked structure itself, as a field, we still lack a definitive framework for translating data into predictions of contagion dynamics. The basic model for contagion spreading on a network is simple: an infectious agent, e.g., a pathogen or an idea, is transmitted from "infectious" individuals to "susceptible" individuals through nearest-neighbor interactions on a contact network. Depending on the properties of the pathogen, we typically expect an exponential rate of contagion spread until individuals start recovering and a steady-state is reached, or until the outbreak dies out. We are then interested in the conditions for which an infectious pathogen will invade a macroscopic fraction of the network, and how large that fraction will be. Typically, we know the expected outcome of the contagion undergoes a continuous phase transition as transmissibility increases; and that the more tree-like and connected a network is, the more a contagion will spread. However, some of our most basic assumptions have been challenged in recent years. The focus of our satellite will be on these recent challenges and on persistent issues in modeling the dynamics of contagion on networks:
  1. It is unclear whether macroscopic invasions emerge continuously or discontinuously as contagion transmissibility increases;
    • threshold levels of transmission or social reinforcement leads to discontinuous transitions [1];
    • interacting epidemics can emerge continuously or discontinuously [2, 3];
    • adaptive social networks can also cause the discontinuous emergence of contagions [4].
  2. Only recently did we start developing robust models for epidemics on temporal networks, and we have yet to reach a consensus on the correct mathematical approach [5].
  3. Interventions and network properties designed to hinder contagions can actually hasten their spread;
    • network clustering slows down simple diseases in isolation but can accelerate synergistic epidemics [6];
    • replacing sick workers can also cause a disease spread to be super-exponential [4];
  4. Zika virus highlights the importance of asymmetric transmission and of mixed routes of transmission (i.e., through a mosquito vector and through sex), and the consequences of which are not fully understood [7, 8].
  5. No model has yet to produce actionable predictions implementing the interaction of human behavior and contagions.
Combined, these recent advances both illustrate how quickly the field is developing and how many challenging scientific questions still exist. Despite new models being continually posted on the arXiv, there has been little consensus or synthesis about the correct tools for contagions on networks and their practical role in supporting public health decision making. This symposium aims at bringing together researchers of diverse background (physics, computer science, ecology, population biology, epidemiology, applied mathematics, social science) to engage in transdisciplinary discussions on the status and future of this rapidly diversifying and expanding field.

Call for abstracts

We invite abstracts of new and/or recently published work for contributed talks to take place at the satellite symposium. We hope for a broad range of topics to be covered, across theory, methodology, and application to empirical data. Topics of special interest, as they relate to contagion, include:

  • Interacting contagions
  • Temporal networks
  • Novel physics of spreading
  • Multiplex networks
  • Memes
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Prediction
  • Behavior
  • Data collection

The deadline for abstract submission is March 12, 2017, and acceptance notifications will be sent March 26, 2017. A more detailed description follows.

Abstract Instructions
Abstract submission will be handled by EasyChair and is free of charge. There is no word limit on abstracts but please limit abstract length to one page, including title, authors, equations, figure(s), etc.. All abstracts will be considered for contributed talks; there will be no posters for ContNet 2017.
Submit an abstract here.

Invited speakers

Shweta Bansal

Georgetown University


Vittoria Colizza

Université Pierre et Marie Curie


Yamir Moreno

Universidad de Zaragoza

A data-driven model for the assessment of age-dependent patterns of Tuberculosis burden and impact evaluation of novel vaccines



Opening remarks

Shweta Bansal
Abigail Horn, Elena Polozova and Hanno Friedrich
Source detection in networks defined by volume and temporal dimensions
Ewan Colman
Does the structure and timing of contacts amplify the risk of infection for hospital nurses?
Byungnam Kahng, Wonjun Choi and Deokjae Lee
Universal mechanisms for discontinuous epidemic transitions

Coffee break

Vittoria Colizza
Yamir Moreno
A data-driven model for the assessment of age-dependent patterns of Tuberculosis burden and impact evaluation of novel vaccines.

Coffee break

Qian Zhang, Kaiyuan Sun, Matteo Chinazzi, Ana Pastore Y Piontti, Natalie Dean, Diana Rojas, Stefano Merler, Dina Mistry, Piero Poletti, Luca Rossi, Margaret Bray, M. Elizabeth Halloran, Ira Longini and Alessandro Vespignani
The spread of Zika virus in the Americas
Daniel Citron and Christopher R. Myers
Contact Network Heterogeneity and the Persistence of Endemic Disease
Aamena Alshamsi, Flavio L. Pinheiro and César Hidalgo
When to target hubs? Strategic Diffusion in Complex Networks
Martin Lopez-Garcia
On the analysis of the SIR epidemic model for small networks: an application in hospital settings
Joan T. Matamalas, Alex Arenas and Sergio Gómez
Epidemic conductance in complex networks

Closing remarks


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