Complexity Digest September 2014


Complexity Digest September 2014.

Complex network theory and the brain

We have known for at least 100 years that a brain is organized as a network of connections between nerve cells. But in the last 10 years there has been a rapid growth in our capacity to quantify the complex topological pattern of brain connectivity, using mathematical tools drawn from graph theory.

Here we bring together articles and reviews from some of the world’s leading experts in contemporary brain network analysis by graph theory. The contributions are focused on three big questions that seem important at this stage in the scientific evolution of the field: How does the topology of a brain network relate to its physical embedding in anatomical space and its biological costs? How does brain network topology constrain brain dynamics and function? And what seem likely to be important future methodological developments in the application of graph theory to analysis of brain networks?

Clearer understanding of the principles of brain network organization is fundamental to understanding many aspects of cognitive function, brain development and clinical brain disorders. We hope this issue provides a forward-looking window on this fast moving field and captures some of the excitement of recent progress in applying the concepts of graph theory to measuring and modeling the complexity of brain networks.

Complex network theory and the brain

Issue compiled and edited by David Papo, Javier M. Buldú, Stefano Boccaletti and Edward T. Bullmore

Collective motions of heterogeneous swarms

The emerging collective motions of swarms of interacting agents are a subject of great interest in application areas ranging from biology to physics and robotics. In this paper, we conduct a careful analysis of the collective dynamics of a swarm of self-propelled heterogeneous, delay-coupled agents. We show the emergence of collective motion patterns and segregation of populations of agents with different dynamic properties; both of these behaviors (pattern formation and segregation) emerge naturally in our model, which is based on self-propulsion and attractive pairwise interactions between agents. We derive the bifurcation structure for emergence of different swarming behaviors in the mean field as a function of physical parameters and verify these results through simulation.

Collective motions of heterogeneous swarms Klementyna Szwaykowska, Luis Mier-y-Teran Romero, Ira B. Schwartz

Multidimensional homophily in friendship networks

Homophily, the tendency for individuals to associate with similar others, is one of the most persistent findings in social network analysis. Its importance is established along the lines of a multitude of sociologically relevant dimensions, e.g. sex, ethnicity and social class. Existing research, however, mostly focuses on one dimension at a time. But people are inherently multidimensional, have many attributes and are members of multiple groups. In this article, we explore such multidimensionality further in the context of network dynamics. Are friendship ties increasingly likely to emerge and persist when individuals have an increasing number of attributes in common? We analyze eleven friendship networks of adolescents, draw on stochastic actor-oriented network models and focus on the interaction of established homophily effects. Our results indicate that main effects for homophily on various dimensions are positive. At the same time, the interaction of these homophily effects is negative. There seems to be a diminishing effect for having more than one attribute in common. We conclude that studies of homophily and friendship formation need to address such multidimensionality further.

Multidimensional homophily in friendship networks * PER BLOCK and THOMAS GRUND

Network Science / Volume 2 / Issue 02 / August 2014, pp 189-212

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Conditions for the Emergence of Shared Norms in Populations with Incompatible Preferences

Understanding norms is a key challenge in sociology. Nevertheless, there is a lack of dynamical models explaining how one of several possible behaviors is established as a norm and under what conditions. Analysing an agent-based model, we identify interesting parameter dependencies that imply when two behaviors will coexist or when a shared norm will emerge in a heterogeneous society, where different populations have incompatible preferences. Our model highlights the importance of randomness, spatial interactions, non-linear dynamics, and self-organization. It can also explain the emergence of unpopular norms that do not maximize the collective benefit. Furthermore, we compare behavior-based with preference-based punishment and find interesting results concerning hypocritical punishment. Strikingly, pressuring others to perform the same public behavior as oneself is more effective in promoting norms than pressuring others to meet one?s own private preference. Finally, we show that adaptive group pressure exerted by randomly occuring, local majorities may create norms under conditions where different behaviors would normally coexist.

Helbing D, Yu W, Opp K-D, Rauhut H (2014) Conditions for the Emergence of Shared Norms in Populations with Incompatible Preferences. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104207.

Quantifying the benefits of vehicle pooling with shareability networks

Recent advances in information technologies have increased our participation in “sharing economies,” where applications that allow networked, real-time data exchange facilitate the sharing of living spaces, equipment, or vehicles with others. However, the impact of large-scale sharing on sustainability is not clear, and a framework to assess its benefits quantitatively is missing. For this purpose, we propose the method of shareability networks, which translates spatio-temporal sharing problems into a graph-theoretic framework that provides efficient solutions. Applying this method to a dataset of 150 million taxi trips in New York City, our simulations reveal the vast potential of a new taxi system in which trips are routinely shareable while keeping passenger discomfort low in terms of prolonged travel time.

Quantifying the benefits of vehicle pooling with shareability networks Paolo Santi, Giovanni Resta, Michael Szell, Stanislav Sobolevsky, Steven H. Strogatz, and Carlo Ratti

Extra-Pair Mating and Evolution of Cooperative Neighbourhoods

A striking but unexplained pattern in biology is the promiscuous mating behaviour in socially monogamous species. Although females commonly solicit extra-pair copulations, the adaptive reason has remained elusive. We use evolutionary modelling of breeding ecology to show that females benefit because extra-pair paternity incentivizes males to shift focus from a single brood towards the entire neighbourhood, as they are likely to have offspring there. Male-male cooperation towards public goods and dear enemy effects of reduced territorial aggression evolve from selfish interests, and lead to safer and more productive neighbourhoods. The mechanism provides adaptive explanations for the common empirical observations that females engage in extra-pair copulations, that neighbours dominate as extra-pair sires, and that extra-pair mating correlates with predation mortality and breeding density. The models predict cooperative behaviours at breeding sites where males cooperate more towards public goods than females. Where maternity certainty makes females care for offspring at home, paternity uncertainty and a potential for offspring in several broods make males invest in communal benefits and public goods. The models further predict that benefits of extra-pair mating affect whole nests or neighbourhoods, and that cuckolding males are often cuckolded themselves. Derived from ecological mechanisms, these new perspectives point towards the evolution of sociality in birds, with relevance also for mammals and primates including humans.

Eliassen S, Jørgensen C (2014) Extra-Pair Mating and Evolution of Cooperative Neighbourhoods. PLoS ONE 9(7): e99878.


Neural coordination can be enhanced by occasional interruption of normal firing patterns: A self-optimizing spiking neural network model

The state space of a conventional Hopfield network typically exhibits many different attractors of which only a small subset satisfy constraints between neurons in a globally optimal fashion. It has recently been demonstrated that combining Hebbian learning with occasional alterations of normal neural states avoids this problem by means of self-organized enlargement of the best basins of attraction. However, so far it is not clear to what extent this process of self-optimization is also operative in real brains. Here we demonstrate that it can be transferred to more biologically plausible neural networks by implementing a self-optimizing spiking neural network model. In addition, by using this spiking neural network to emulate a Hopfield network with Hebbian learning, we attempt to make a connection between rate-based and temporal coding based neural systems. Although further work is required to make this model more realistic, it already suggests that the efficacy of the self-optimizing process is independent from the simplifying assumptions of a conventional Hopfield network. We also discuss natural and cultural processes that could be responsible for occasional alteration of neural firing patterns in actual brains

Neural coordination can be enhanced by occasional interruption of normal firing patterns: A self-optimizing spiking neural network model Alexander Woodward, Tom Froese, Takashi Ikegami

Measures of Human Mobility Using Mobile Phone Records Enhanced with GIS Data

In the past decade, large scale mobile phone data have become available for the study of human movement patterns. These data hold an immense promise for understanding human behavior on a vast scale, and with a precision and accuracy never before possible with censuses, surveys or other existing data collection techniques. There is already a significant body of literature that has made key inroads into understanding human mobility using this exciting new data source, and there have been several different measures of mobility used. However, existing mobile phone based mobility measures are inconsistent, inaccurate, and confounded with social characteristics of local context. New measures would best be developed immediately as they will influence future studies of mobility using mobile phone data. In this article, we do exactly this. We discuss problems with existing mobile phone based measures of mobility and describe new methods for measuring mobility that address these concerns. Our measures of mobility, which incorporate both mobile phone records and detailed GIS data, are designed to address the spatial nature of human mobility, to remain independent of social characteristics of context, and to be comparable across geographic regions and time. We also contribute a discussion of the variety of uses for these new measures in developing a better understanding of how human mobility influences micro-level human behaviors and well-being, and macro-level social organization and change.

Measures of Human Mobility Using Mobile Phone Records Enhanced with GIS Data Nathalie E. Williams, Timothy A. Thomas, Matthew Dunbar, Nathan Eagle, Adrian Dobra

The Matthew effect in empirical data

The Matthew effect describes the phenomenon that in societies the rich tend to get richer and the potent even more powerful. It is closely related to the concept of preferential attachment in network science, where the more connected nodes are destined to acquire many more links in the future than the auxiliary nodes. Cumulative advantage and success-breads-success also both describe the fact that advantage tends to beget further advantage. The concept is behind the many power laws and scaling behaviour in empirical data, and it is at the heart of self-organization across social and natural sciences. Here we review the methodology for measuring preferential attachment in empirical data, as well as the observations of the Matthew effect in patterns of scientific collaboration, socio-technical and biological networks, the propagation of citations, the emergence of scientific progress and impact, career longevity, the evolution of common English words and phrases, as well a!

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education and brain development. We also discuss whether the Matthew effect is due to chance or optimisation, for example related to homophily in social systems or efficacy in technological systems, and we outline possible directions for future research.

The Matthew effect in empirical data, Matjaz Perc



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