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      Statistical mechanics of complex networks

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          Abstract

          Complex networks describe a wide range of systems in nature and society, much quoted examples including the cell, a network of chemicals linked by chemical reactions, or the Internet, a network of routers and computers connected by physical links. While traditionally these systems were modeled as random graphs, it is increasingly recognized that the topology and evolution of real networks is governed by robust organizing principles. Here we review the recent advances in the field of complex networks, focusing on the statistical mechanics of network topology and dynamics. After reviewing the empirical data that motivated the recent interest in networks, we discuss the main models and analytical tools, covering random graphs, small-world and scale-free networks, as well as the interplay between topology and the network's robustness against failures and attacks.

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          Emergence of scaling in random networks

          Systems as diverse as genetic networks or the world wide web are best described as networks with complex topology. A common property of many large networks is that the vertex connectivities follow a scale-free power-law distribution. This feature is found to be a consequence of the two generic mechanisms that networks expand continuously by the addition of new vertices, and new vertices attach preferentially to already well connected sites. A model based on these two ingredients reproduces the observed stationary scale-free distributions, indicating that the development of large networks is governed by robust self-organizing phenomena that go beyond the particulars of the individual systems.
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            Error and attack tolerance of complex networks

            Many complex systems, such as communication networks, display a surprising degree of robustness: while key components regularly malfunction, local failures rarely lead to the loss of the global information-carrying ability of the network. The stability of these complex systems is often attributed to the redundant wiring of the functional web defined by the systems' components. In this paper we demonstrate that error tolerance is not shared by all redundant systems, but it is displayed only by a class of inhomogeneously wired networks, called scale-free networks. We find that scale-free networks, describing a number of systems, such as the World Wide Web, Internet, social networks or a cell, display an unexpected degree of robustness, the ability of their nodes to communicate being unaffected by even unrealistically high failure rates. However, error tolerance comes at a high price: these networks are extremely vulnerable to attacks, i.e. to the selection and removal of a few nodes that play the most important role in assuring the network's connectivity.
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              Epidemic spreading in scale-free networks

              The Internet, as well as many other networks, has a very complex connectivity recently modeled by the class of scale-free networks. This feature, which appears to be very efficient for a communications network, favors at the same time the spreading of computer viruses. We analyze real data from computer virus infections and find the average lifetime and prevalence of viral strains on the Internet. We define a dynamical model for the spreading of infections on scale-free networks, finding the absence of an epidemic threshold and its associated critical behavior. This new epidemiological framework rationalize data of computer viruses and could help in the understanding of other spreading phenomena on communication and social networks.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                2001-06-06
                Article
                10.1103/RevModPhys.74.47
                cond-mat/0106096
                Custom metadata
                Reviews of Modern Physics 74, 47 (2002)
                54 pages, submitted to Reviews of Modern Physics
                cond-mat.stat-mech cond-mat.dis-nn cs.NI math-ph math.MP nlin.AO physics.data-an

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