A great variety of systems in nature, society and technology–from the web of sexual contacts to the Internet, from the nervous system to power grids–can be modeled as graphs of vertices coupled by edges. The network structure, describing how the graph is wired, helps us understand, predict and optimize the behavior of dynamical systems. In many cases, however, the edges are not continuously active. As an example, in networks of communication via e-mail, text messages, or phone calls, edges represent sequences of instantaneous or practically instantaneous contacts. In some cases, edges are active for non-negligible periods of time: e.g., the proximity patterns of inpatients at hospitals can be represented by a graph where an edge between two individuals is on throughout the time they are at the same ward. Like network topology, the temporal structure of edge activations can affect dynamics of systems interacting through the network, from disease contagion on the network of patients to information diffusion over an e-mail network. In this review, we present the emergent field of temporal networks, and discuss methods for analyzing topological and temporal structure and models for elucidating their relation to the behavior of dynamical systems. In the light of traditional network theory, one can see this framework as moving the information of when things happen from the dynamical system on the network, to the network itself. Since fundamental properties, such as the transitivity of edges, do not necessarily hold in temporal networks, many of these methods need to be quite different from those for static networks. The study of temporal networks is very interdisciplinary in nature. Reflecting this, even the object of study has many names—temporal graphs, evolving graphs, time-varying graphs, time-aggregated graphs, time-stamped graphs, dynamic networks, dynamic graphs, dynamical graphs, and so on. This review covers different fields where temporal graphs are considered, but does not attempt to unify related terminology—rather, we want to make papers readable across disciplines.
2012. Vol. 519, no 3, 97-125 p.