Limits of the memory coefficient in measuring correlated bursts

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Research units

  • Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics
  • Pohang University of Science and Technology


Temporal inhomogeneities in event sequences of natural and social phenomena have been characterized in terms of interevent times and correlations between interevent times. The inhomogeneities of interevent times have been extensively studied, while the correlations between interevent times, often called correlated bursts, are far from being fully understood. For measuring the correlated bursts, two relevant approaches were suggested, i.e., memory coefficient and burst size distribution. Here a burst size denotes the number of events in a bursty train detected for a given time window. Empirical analyses have revealed that the larger memory coefficient tends to be associated with the heavier tail of the burst size distribution. In particular, empirical findings in human activities appear inconsistent, such that the memory coefficient is close to 0, while burst size distributions follow a power law. In order to comprehend these observations, by assuming the conditional independence between consecutive interevent times, we derive the analytical form of the memory coefficient as a function of parameters describing interevent time and burst size distributions. Our analytical result can explain the general tendency of the larger memory coefficient being associated with the heavier tail of burst size distribution. We also find that the apparently inconsistent observations in human activities are compatible with each other, indicating that the memory coefficient has limits to measure the correlated bursts.


Original languageEnglish
Article number032121
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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