You Shall not Pass: Avoiding Spurious Paths in Shortest-Path Based Centralities in Multidimensional Complex Networks
In complex network analysis, centralities based on shortest paths, such as betweenness and closeness, are widely used. More recently, many complex systems are being represented by time-varying, multilayer, and time-varying multilayer networks, i.e. multidimensional (or high order) networks. Nevertheless, it is well-known that the aggregation process may create spurious paths on the aggregated view of such multidimensional (high order) networks. Consequently, these spurious paths may then cause shortest-path based centrality metrics to produce incorrect results, thus undermining the network centrality analysis. In this context, we propose a method able to avoid taking into account spurious paths when computing centralities based on shortest paths in multidimensional (or high order) networks. Our method is based on MultiAspect Graphs (MAG) to represent the multidimensional networks and we show that well-known centrality algorithms can be straightforwardly adapted to the MAG environment. Moreover, we show that, by using this MAG representation, pitfalls usually associated with spurious paths resulting from aggregation in multidimensional networks can be avoided at the time of the aggregation process. As a result, shortest-path based centralities are assured to be computed correctly for multidimensional networks, without taking into account spurious paths that could otherwise lead to incorrect results. We also present a case study that shows the impact of spurious paths in the computing of shortest paths and consequently of shortest-path based centralities, thus illustrating the importance of this contribution.