Measuring Individual Regularity in Human Visiting Patterns
The ability to quantify the level of regularity in an individual's patterns of visiting a particular location provides valuable context in many areas, such as urban planning, reality mining, and opportunistic networks. However, in many cases, visit data is only available as zero-duration events, precluding the application of methods that require continuous, densely-sampled data. To address this, our approach in this paper takes inspiration from an established body of research in the neural coding community that deals with the similar problem of finding patterns in event-based data. We adapt a neural synchrony measure to develop a method of quantifying the regularity of an individual's visits to a location, where regularity is defined as the level of similarity in weekly visiting patterns. We apply this method to study regularity in three real-world datasets, specifically, a metropolitan transport system, a university campus, and an online location-sharing service. Among our findings we identify a core group of individuals in each dataset that visited at least one location with near-perfect regularity.