Random complex networks

Michael Small, Lvlin Hou, Linjun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Exactly what is meant by a 'complex' network is not clear; however, what is clear is that it is something other than a random graph. Complex networks arise in a wide range of real social, technological and physical systems. In all cases, the most basic categorization of these graphs is their node degree distribution. Particular groups of complex networks may exhibit additional interesting features, including the so-called small-world effect or being scale-free. There are many algorithms with which one may generate networks with particular degree distributions (perhaps the most famous of which is preferential attachment). In this paper, we address what it means to randomly choose a network from the class of networks with a particular degree distribution, and in doing so we show that the networks one gets from the preferential attachment process are actually highly pathological. Certain properties (including robustness and fragility) which have been attributed to the (scale-free) degree distribution are actually more intimately related to the preferential attachment growth mechanism. We focus here on scale-free networks with power-law degree sequences-but our methods and results are perfectly generic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-367
Number of pages11
JournalNational Science Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Complex networks
  • Network robustness
  • Power-law
  • Random graph, Markov chain Monte Carlo
  • Scale-free networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Random complex networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this