Controlling self-organizing systems is challenging because the system responds to the controller. Here, we develop a model that captures the essential self-organizing mechanisms of Bak-Tang-Wiesenfeld (BTW) sandpiles on networks, a self-organized critical (SOC) system. This model enables studying a simple control scheme that determines the frequency of cascades and that shapes systemic risk. We show that optimal strategies exist for generic cost functions and that controlling a subcritical system may drive it to criticality. This approach could enable controlling other self-organizing systems.
Controlling Self-Organizing Dynamics on Networks Using Models that Self-Organize
Pierre-André Noël, Charles D. Brummitt, and Raissa M. D’Souza
Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 078701 (2013)
Selected for a Viewpoint http://physics.aps.org/articles/v6/90