We investigate what structural aspects of a collection of twelve empirical temporal networks of human contacts are important to disease spreading. We scan the entire parameter spaces of the two canonical models of infectious disease epidemiology-the Susceptible-Infectious-Susceptible (SIS) and Susceptible-Infectious-Removed (SIR) models. The results from these simulations are compared to reference data where we eliminate structures in the interevent intervals, the time to the first contact in the data, or the time from the last contact to the end of the sampling. The picture we find is that the birth and death of links, and the total number of contacts over a link, are essential to predict outbreaks. On the other hand, the exact times of contacts between the beginning and end, or the interevent interval distribution, do not matter much. In other words, a simplified picture of these empirical data sets that suffices for epidemiological purposes is that links are born, is active with some intensity, and die.
2014. Vol. 4, 4999- p.