Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 225–258

Discovery of extreme events-related communities in contrasting groups of physical system networks


  • Zhengzhang Chen
    • North Carolina State University
    • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • William Hendrix
    • North Carolina State University
  • Hang Guan
    • Zhejiang University
  • Isaac K. Tetteh
    • North Carolina State University
  • Alok Choudhary
    • Northwestern University
  • Fredrick Semazzi
    • North Carolina State University
    • North Carolina State University
    • Oak Ridge National Laboratory

DOI: 10.1007/s10618-012-0289-3


The latent behavior of a physical system that can exhibit extreme events such as hurricanes or rainfalls, is complex. Recently, a very promising means for studying complex systems has emerged through the concept of complex networks. Networks representing relationships between individual objects usually exhibit community dynamics. Conventional community detection methods mainly focus on either mining frequent subgraphs in a network or detecting stable communities in time-varying networks. In this paper, we formulate a novel problem—detection of predictive and phase-biased communities in contrasting groups of networks, and propose an efficient and effective machine learning solution for finding such anomalous communities. We build different groups of networks corresponding to different system’s phases, such as higher or low hurricane activity, discover phase-related system components as seeds to help bound the search space of community generation in each network, and use the proposed contrast-based technique to identify the changing communities across different groups. The detected anomalous communities are hypothesized (1) to play an important role in defining the target system’s state(s) and (2) to improve the predictive skill of the system’s states when used collectively in the ensemble of predictive models. When tested on the two important extreme event problems—identification of tropical cyclone-related and of African Sahel rainfall-related climate indices—our algorithm demonstrated the superior performance in terms of various skill and robustness metrics, including 8–16 % accuracy increase, as well as physical interpretability of detected communities. The experimental results also show the efficiency of our algorithm on synthetic datasets.


Spatio-temporal data mining Complex network analysis Community detection Comparative analysis Network motif detection Extreme event prediction


The authors would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the paper. This work was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) and the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (Expeditions in Computing). Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the LLC U.S. D.O.E. under contract no. DEAC05-00OR22725.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2012