Relative clock verifies endogenous bursts of human dynamics

Tao Zhou*, Zhi Dan Zhao, Zimo Yang, Changsong ZHOU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Temporal bursts are widely observed in many human-activated systems, which may result from both endogenous mechanisms like the highest-priority-first protocol and exogenous factors like the seasonality of activities. To distinguish the effects from different mechanisms is thus of theoretical significance. This letter reports a new timing method by using a relative clock, namely the time length between two consecutive events of an agent is counted as the number of other agents' events appeared during this interval. We propose a model, in which agents act either in a constant rate or with a power-law inter-event time distribution, and the global activity either keeps unchanged or varies periodically vs. time. Our analysis shows that the bursts caused by the heterogeneity of global activity can be eliminated by setting the relative clock, yet the bursts from real individual behaviors still exist. We perform extensive experiments on four large-scale systems, the search engine by AOL, a social bookmarking system - Delicious, a short-message communication network, and a microblogging system - Twitter. Seasonality of global activity is observed, yet the bursts cannot be eliminated by using the relative clock.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18006
JournalEurophysics Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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