What makes economic and ecological networks so unlike other highly skewed networks in their tendency toward turbulence and collapse? Here, we explore the consequences of a defining feature of these networks: their nodes are tied together by flow. We show that flow networks tend to the power law degree distribution (PLDD) due to a self-reinforcing process involving position within the global network structure, and thus present the first random graph model for PLDDs that does not depend on a rich-get-richer function of nodal degree. We also show that in contrast to non-flow networks, PLDD flow networks are dramatically more vulnerable to catastrophic failure than non-PLDD flow networks, a finding with potential explanatory power in our age of resource- and financial-interdependence and turbulence.
Power Laws and Fragility in Flow Networks
Jesse Shore, Catherine J. Chu, Matt T. Bianchi