by Daniel Korchinski (Complexity Science Group, University of Calgary, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute, University of British Columbia).
Spreading processes on networks are ubiquitous in both human-made and natural systems. Understanding their behavior is of broad interest; from the control of epidemics to understanding brain dynamics. While in some cases there exists a clear separation of time scales between the propagation of a single spreading cascade and the initiation of the next — such that spreading can be modelled as directed percolation or a branching process — there are also processes for which this is not the case, such as zoonotic diseases or spiking cascades in neural networks. For a large class of relevant network topologies, we show here that in such a scenario the nature of the overall spreading fundamentally changes. This change manifests itself in a transition between different universality classes of critical spreading, which determines the onset and the properties of an avalanche turning epidemic or neural activity turning epileptic, for example. We present analytical results in the mean-field limit giving the critical line along which scale-free spreading behaviour can be observed. The two limits of this critical line correspond to the universality classes of directed and undirected percolation, respectively. Outside these two limits, this duality manifests itself in the appearance of critical exponents from the universality classes of both directed and undirected percolation. We find that the transition between these exponents is governed by a competition between merging and propagation of activity, and identify an appropriate scaling relationship for the transition point. Finally, we show that commonly used measures, such as the branching ratio and dynamic susceptibility, fail to establish criticality in the absence of time-scale separation calling for a reanalysis of criticality in the brain.
Spotlight talk presented on October 6th 2020, at the Brain Criticality Virtual Conference 2020 (Plenz D., Chialvo D., de Arcangelis L. & Battaglia D. organizers)