Bounding the Size and Probability of Epidemics on Networks Academic Article uri icon


  • We consider an infectious disease spreading along the edges of a network which may have significant clustering. The individuals in the population have heterogeneous infectiousness and/or susceptibility. We define the out-transmissibility of a node to be the marginal probability that it would infect a randomly chosen neighbor given its infectiousness and the distribution of susceptibility. For a given distribution of out-transmissibility, we find the conditions which give the upper (or lower) bounds on the size and probability of an epidemic, under weak assumptions on the transmission properties, but very general assumptions on the network. We find similar bounds for a given distribution of in-transmissibility (the marginal probability of being infected by a neighbor). We also find conditions giving global upper bounds on the size and probability. The distributions leading to these bounds are network independent. In the special case of networks with high girth (locally tree-like), we are able to prove stronger results. In general, the probability and size of epidemics are maximal when the population is homogeneous and minimal when the variance of in- or out-transmissibility is maximal.

publication date

  • June 2008