Letter abstract

Nature Physics 2, 532 - 536 (2006)

Subject Categories: Statistical physics, thermodynamics and nonlinear dynamics | Biological physics

Effects of topology on network evolution

Panos Oikonomou and Philippe Cluzel


The ubiquity of scale-free topology in nature raises the question of whether this particular network design confers an evolutionary advantage1. A series of studies has identified key principles controlling the growth and the dynamics of scale-free networks2, 3, 4. Here, we use neuron-based networks of boolean components as a framework for modelling a large class of dynamical behaviours in both natural and artificial systems5, 6, 7. Applying a training algorithm, we characterize how networks with distinct topologies evolve towards a pre-established target function through a process of random mutations and selection8, 9, 10. We find that homogeneous random networks and scale-free networks exhibit drastically different evolutionary paths. Whereas homogeneous random networks accumulate neutral mutations and evolve by sparse punctuated steps11, 12, scale-free networks evolve rapidly and continuously. Remarkably, this latter property is robust to variations of the degree exponent. In contrast, homogeneous random networks require a specific tuning of their connectivity to optimize their ability to evolve. These results highlight an organizing principle that governs the evolution of complex networks and that can improve the design of engineered systems.

  1. The James Franck Institute and Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, Department of Physics, University of Chicago, Gordon Center for Integrative Science, 929 E. 57th St, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA

Correspondence to: Panos Oikonomou e-mail: poikonom@uchicago.edu

Correspondence to: Philippe Cluzel e-mail: cluzel@uchicago.edu


These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.


How robust is the Internet?

Nature News and Views (27 Jul 2000)

Complex systems Romanesque networks

Nature News and Views (27 Jan 2005)

See all 4 matches for News And Views


Surrogate Endpoints for the Treatment of Venous Leg Ulcers

Journal of Investigative Dermatology Original Article

Origins of fractality in the growth of complex networks

Nature Physics Article (01 Apr 2006)

See all 52 matches for Research