Our advice: Be fractal and be robust

Methods developed in the framework of statistical physics have provided a completely new understanding of complex networks. Similar structural properties have been uncovered in networks found in fields as diverse as biology, technology and sociology. In particular, certain real-world networks display fractality, resembling the self-similarity in Mandelbrot’s famous geometric sets. But can these organizational principles point us to potential common mechanisms underlying the growth of complex networks? Chaoming Song [1] and colleagues show that, indeed, certain classes of networks do evolve according to shared principles, and that these can be formulated in terms of renormalization theory. Furthermore, they find that fractality provides protection against intentional attacks. For biological networks, this might suggest an evolutionary drive towards fractality. References:

[1] C. Song, S. Havlin, and H. A. Makse, Origins of Fractality in the Growth of Complex Networks, Nature Physics 2, 275-281 (2006). ps version , pdf version . Pdf version including supplementary materials.

From the April 2006 issue of Nature Physics.


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