Researchers develop method that shows diverse complex networks have similar skeletons.
Northwestern University researchers are the first to discover that very different complex networks — ranging from global air traffic to neural networks — share very similar backbones. By stripping each network down to its essential nodes and links, they found each network possesses a skeleton and these skeletons share common features, much like vertebrates do.
Mammals have evolved to look very different despite a common underlying structure (think of a human being and a bat), and now it appears real-world complex networks evolve in a similar way.
The researchers studied a variety of biological, technological and social networks and found that all these networks have evolved according to basic growth mechanisms. The findings could be particularly useful in understanding how something — a disease, a rumor or information — spreads across a network.
This surprising discovery — that networks all have skeletons and that they are similar — was published this week by the journal Nature Communications.