Dynamics impose limits to detectability of network structure

Malbor ASLLANI, Bruno da Cunha, Ernesto Estrada, James Gleeson

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Networks are universally considered as complex structures of interactions of large multi-component systems. To determine the role that each node has inside a complex network, several centrality measures have been developed. Such topological features are also crucial for their role in the dynamical processes occurring in networked systems. In this paper, we argue that the dynamical activity of the nodes may strongly reshape their relevance inside the network, making centrality measures in many cases, misleading. By proposing a generalisation of the communicability function, we show that when the dynamics taking place at the local level of the node is slower than the global one between the nodes, then the system may lose track of the structural features. On the contrary, hidden global properties such as the shortest path distances can be recovered only in the limit where network-level dynamics are negligible compared to node-level dynamics. From the perspective of network inference, this constitutes an uncertainty condition, in the sense that it limits the extraction of multi-resolution information about the structure, particularly in the presence of noise. For illustration purposes, we show that for networks with different time-scale structures such as strong modularity, the existence of fast global dynamics can imply that precise inference of the community structure is impossible.
Original languageEnglish
Article number063037
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number6
Early online date19 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2020


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