Sunday, May 19, 2013

1305.3282 (Rémi Louf et al.)

Emergence of hierarchy in cost driven growth of spatial networks    [PDF]

Rémi Louf, Pablo Jensen, Marc Barthelemy
One of the most important features of spatial networks such as transportation networks, power grids, Internet, neural networks, is the existence of a cost associated with the length of links. Such a cost has a profound influence on the global structure of these networks which usually display a hierarchical spatial organization. The link between local constraints and large-scale structure is however not elucidated and we introduce here a generic model for the growth of spatial networks based on the general concept of cost benefit analysis. This model depends essentially on one single scale and produces a family of networks which range from the star-graph to the minimum spanning tree and which are characterised by a continuously varying exponent. We show that spatial hierarchy emerges naturally, with structures composed of various hubs controlling geographically separated service areas, and appears as a large-scale consequence of local cost-benefit considerations. Our model thus provides the first building blocks for a better understanding of the evolution of spatial networks and their properties. We also find that, surprisingly, the average detour is minimal in the intermediate regime, as a result of a large diversity in link lengths. Finally, we estimate the important parameters for various world railway networks and find that --remarkably-- they all fall in this intermediate regime, suggesting that spatial hierarchy is a crucial feature for these systems and probably possesses an important evolutionary advantage.
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