Self-organisation of small-world networks by adaptive rewiring in response to graph diffusion

N. Jarman, E. Steur, C. Trengove, I.Y. Tyukin, C. van Leeuwen

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21 Citations (Scopus)
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Complex networks emerging in natural and human-made systems tend to assume small-world structure. Is there a common mechanism underlying their self-organisation? Our computational simulations show that network diffusion (traffic flow or information transfer) steers network evolution towards emergence of complex network structures. The emergence is effectuated through adaptive rewiring: progressive adaptation of structure to use, creating short-cuts where network diffusion is intensive while annihilating underused connections. With adaptive rewiring as the engine of universal small-worldness, overall diffusion rate tunes the systems' adaptation, biasing local or global connectivity patterns. Whereas the former leads to modularity, the latter provides a preferential attachment regime. As the latter sets in, the resulting small-world structures undergo a critical shift from modular (decentralised) to centralised ones. At the transition point, network structure is hierarchical, balancing modularity and centrality - a characteristic feature found in, for instance, the human brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13158
Pages (from-to)13158
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2017


  • Journal Article


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