Universal nonlinear infection kernel from heterogeneous exposure on higher-order networks


The collocation of individuals in different environments is an important prerequisite for exposure to infectious diseases on a social network. Standard epidemic models fail to capture the potential complexity of this scenario by (1) neglecting the higher-order structure of contacts that typically occur through environments like workplaces, restaurants, and households, and (2) assuming a linear relationship between the exposure to infected contacts and the risk of infection. Here, we leverage a hypergraph model to embrace the heterogeneity of environments and the heterogeneity of individual participation in these environments. We find that combining heterogeneous exposure with the concept of minimal infective dose induces a universal nonlinear relationship between infected contacts and infection risk. Under nonlinear infection kernels, conventional epidemic wisdom breaks down with the emergence of discontinuous transitions, superexponential spread, and hysteresis.

In Physical Review Letter
Hanlin Sun
Hanlin Sun
Wallenberg Initiative on Networks and Quantum Information (WINQ) Research Fellow