NS Seminar

Date and Location

Nov 13, 2018 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Bldg 434, Room 122


Emergence of scaling in random networks (presented by Alon Albalak, Computer Science)

Barabási, A. L., & Albert, R. (1999). Emergence of scaling in random networks. science, 286(5439), 509-512.

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 was found to be a consequence of two generic mechanisms: (i) networks expand continuously by the addition of new vertices, and (ii) new vertices attach preferentially to sites that are already well connected. A model based on these two ingredients reproduces the observed stationary scale-free distributions, which indicates that the development of large networks is governed by robust self-organizing phenomena that go beyond the particulars of the individual systems.


Scale-free networks are rare (presented by James Bird, Computer Science)

Broido, A. D., & Clauset, A. (2018). Scale-free networks are rare. arXiv preprint arXiv:1801.03400.

A central claim in modern network science is that real-world networks are typically "scale free," meaning that the fraction of nodes with degree k follows a power law, decaying like k−α, often with 2<α<3. However, empirical evidence for this belief derives from a relatively small number of real-world networks. We test the universality of scale-free structure by applying state-of-the-art statistical tools to a large corpus of nearly 1000 network data sets drawn from social, biological, technological, and informational sources. We fit the power-law model to each degree distribution, test its statistical plausibility, and compare it via a likelihood ratio test to alternative, non-scale-free models, e.g., the log-normal. Across domains, we find that scale-free networks are rare, with only 4% exhibiting the strongest-possible evidence of scale-free structure and 52% exhibiting the weakest-possible evidence. Furthermore, evidence of scale-free structure is not uniformly distributed across sources: social networks are at best weakly scale free, while a handful of technological and biological networks can be called strongly scale free. These results undermine the universality of scale-free networks and reveal that real-world networks exhibit a rich structural diversity that will likely require new ideas and mechanisms to explain.