Extracting ordinal temporal trail clusters in networks using symbolic time-series analysis


Temporal trails generated by agents traveling to various locations at different time epochs are becoming more prevalent in large social networks. We propose an algorithm to intuitively cluster groups of such agent trails from networks. The proposed algorithm is based on modeling each trail as a probabilistic finite state automata (PFSA). The algorithm also allows the specification of the required degree of similarity between the trails by specifying the depth of the PFSA. Hierarchical agglomerative clustering is used to group trails based on their representative PFSA and the locations that they visit. The algorithm was applied to simulated trails and real-world network trails obtained from merchant marine ships GPS locations. In both cases it was able to intuitively detect and extract the underlying patterns in the trails and form clusters of similar trails.

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This work was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research (N00014-06-1-0104) for adversarial assessment and (N00014-08-11186) for rapid ethnographic assessment, the Army Research Office and ERDC-TEC (W911NF0710317). Additional support was provided by CASOS—the center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems at Carnegie Mellon University. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Institute, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Centers (ERDC), Topographic Engineering Center or the US government.

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Correspondence to Aparna Gullapalli.

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Gullapalli, A., Carley, K.M. Extracting ordinal temporal trail clusters in networks using symbolic time-series analysis. Soc. Netw. Anal. Min. 3, 1179–1194 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13278-012-0091-7

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  • Spatiotemporal networks
  • Network trails
  • Time-series analysis
  • Symbolic dynamics