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Chapter 50,217

Revisiting "scale-free" networks

Keller, E.F.

Bioessays: News and Reviews in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology 27(10): 1060-1068

2005


ISSN/ISBN: 0265-9247
PMID: 16163729
DOI: 10.1002/bies.20294
Accession: 050216214

Recent observations of power-law distributions in the connectivity of complex networks came as a big surprise to researchers steeped in the tradition of random networks. Even more surprising was the discovery that power-law distributions also characterize many biological and social networks. Many attributed a deep significance to this fact, inferring a "universal architecture" of complex systems. Closer examination, however, challenges the assumptions that (1) such distributions are special and (2) they signify a common architecture, independent of the system's specifics. The real surprise, if any, is that power-law distributions are easy to generate, and by a variety of mechanisms. The architecture that results is not universal, but particular; it is determined by the actual constraints on the system in question.

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