Duncan J. Watts
Other affiliations: Cornell University, Microsoft, Columbia University ...read more
Bio: Duncan J. Watts is an academic researcher from University of Pennsylvania. The author has contributed to research in topic(s): Randomness & Small-world network. The author has an hindex of 62, co-authored 146 publication(s) receiving 83816 citation(s). Previous affiliations of Duncan J. Watts include Cornell University & Microsoft.
Topics: Randomness, Small-world network, Network model, Population, Random graph
Papers published on a yearly basis
TL;DR: Simple models of networks that can be tuned through this middle ground: regular networks ‘rewired’ to introduce increasing amounts of disorder are explored, finding that these systems can be highly clustered, like regular lattices, yet have small characteristic path lengths, like random graphs.
Abstract: Networks of coupled dynamical systems have been used to model biological oscillators, Josephson junction arrays, excitable media, neural networks, spatial games, genetic control networks and many other self-organizing systems. Ordinarily, the connection topology is assumed to be either completely regular or completely random. But many biological, technological and social networks lie somewhere between these two extremes. Here we explore simple models of networks that can be tuned through this middle ground: regular networks 'rewired' to introduce increasing amounts of disorder. We find that these systems can be highly clustered, like regular lattices, yet have small characteristic path lengths, like random graphs. We call them 'small-world' networks, by analogy with the small-world phenomenon (popularly known as six degrees of separation. The neural network of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the power grid of the western United States, and the collaboration graph of film actors are shown to be small-world networks. Models of dynamical systems with small-world coupling display enhanced signal-propagation speed, computational power, and synchronizability. In particular, infectious diseases spread more easily in small-world networks than in regular lattices.
24 Jul 2001-Physical Review E
TL;DR: It is demonstrated that in some cases random graphs with appropriate distributions of vertex degree predict with surprising accuracy the behavior of the real world, while in others there is a measurable discrepancy between theory and reality, perhaps indicating the presence of additional social structure in the network that is not captured by the random graph.
Abstract: Recent work on the structure of social networks and the internet has focused attention on graphs with distributions of vertex degree that are significantly different from the Poisson degree distributions that have been widely studied in the past. In this paper we develop in detail the theory of random graphs with arbitrary degree distributions. In addition to simple undirected, unipartite graphs, we examine the properties of directed and bipartite graphs. Among other results, we derive exact expressions for the position of the phase transition at which a giant component first forms, the mean component size, the size of the giant component if there is one, the mean number of vertices a certain distance away from a randomly chosen vertex, and the average vertex-vertex distance within a graph. We apply our theory to some real-world graphs, including the worldwide web and collaboration graphs of scientists and Fortune 1000 company directors. We demonstrate that in some cases random graphs with appropriate distributions of vertex degree predict with surprising accuracy the behavior of the real world, while in others there is a measurable discrepancy between theory and reality, perhaps indicating the presence of additional social structure in the network that is not captured by the random graph.
••23 Oct 2011
TL;DR: The degree distribution, twopoint correlations, and clustering are the studied topological properties and an evolution of networks is studied to shed light on the influence the dynamics has on the network topology.
Abstract: Networks have become a general concept to model the structure of arbitrary relationships among entities. The framework of a network introduces a fundamentally new approach apart from ‘classical’ structures found in physics to model the topology of a system. In the context of networks fundamentally new topological effects can emerge and lead to a class of topologies which are termed ‘complex networks’. The concept of a network successfully models the static topology of an empirical system, an arbitrary model, and a physical system. Generally networks serve as a host for some dynamics running on it in order to fulfill a function. The question of the reciprocal relationship among a dynamical process on a network and its topology is the context of this Thesis. This context is studied in both directions. The network topology constrains or enhances the dynamics running on it, while the reciprocal interaction is of the same importance. Networks are commonly the result of an evolutionary process, e.g. protein interaction networks from biology. Within such an evolution the dynamics shapes the underlying network topology with respect to an optimal achievement of the function to perform. Answering the question what the influence on a dynamics of a particular topological property has requires the accurate control over the topological properties in question. In this Thesis the degree distribution, twopoint correlations, and clustering are the studied topological properties. These are motivated by the ubiquitous presence and importance within almost all empirical networks. An analytical framework to measure and to control such quantities of networks along with numerical algorithms to generate them is developed in a first step. Networks with the examined topological properties are then used to reveal their impact on two rather general dynamics on networks. Finally, an evolution of networks is studied to shed light on the influence the dynamics has on the network topology.
•23 Aug 1999
TL;DR: Duncan Watts uses the small-world phenomenon--colloquially called "six degrees of separation"--as a prelude to a more general exploration: under what conditions can a small world arise in any kind of network?
Abstract: Everyone knows the small-world phenomenon: soon after meeting a stranger, we are surprised to discover that we have a mutual friend, or we are connected through a short chain of acquaintances. In his book, Duncan Watts uses this intriguing phenomenon--colloquially called "six degrees of separation"--as a prelude to a more general exploration: under what conditions can a small world arise in any kind of network?The networks of this story are everywhere: the brain is a network of neurons; organisations are people networks; the global economy is a network of national economies, which are networks of markets, which are in turn networks of interacting producers and consumers. Food webs, ecosystems, and the Internet can all be represented as networks, as can strategies for solving a problem, topics in a conversation, and even words in a language. Many of these networks, the author claims, will turn out to be small worlds.How do such networks matter? Simply put, local actions can have global consequences, and the relationship between local and global dynamics depends critically on the network's structure. Watts illustrates the subtleties of this relationship using a variety of simple models---the spread of infectious disease through a structured population; the evolution of cooperation in game theory; the computational capacity of cellular automata; and the sychronisation of coupled phase-oscillators.Watts's novel approach is relevant to many problems that deal with network connectivity and complex systems' behaviour in general: How do diseases (or rumours) spread through social networks? How does cooperation evolve in large groups? How do cascading failures propagate through large power grids, or financial systems? What is the most efficient architecture for an organisation, or for a communications network? This fascinating exploration will be fruitful in a remarkable variety of fields, including physics and mathematics, as well as sociology, economics, and biology.
TL;DR: It is shown that heterogeneity plays an ambiguous role in determining a system's stability: increasingly heterogeneous thresholds make the system more vulnerable to global cascades; but anincreasingly heterogeneous degree distribution makes it less vulnerable.
Abstract: The origin of large but rare cascades that are triggered by small initial shocks is a phenomenon that manifests itself as diversely as cultural fads, collective action, the diffusion of norms and innovations, and cascading failures in infrastructure and organizational networks. This paper presents a possible explanation of this phenomenon in terms of a sparse, random network of interacting agents whose decisions are determined by the actions of their neighbors according to a simple threshold rule. Two regimes are identified in which the network is susceptible to very large cascades—herein called global cascades—that occur very rarely. When cascade propagation is limited by the connectivity of the network, a power law distribution of cascade sizes is observed, analogous to the cluster size distribution in standard percolation theory and avalanches in self-organized criticality. But when the network is highly connected, cascade propagation is limited instead by the local stability of the nodes themselves, and the size distribution of cascades is bimodal, implying a more extreme kind of instability that is correspondingly harder to anticipate. In the first regime, where the distribution of network neighbors is highly skewed, it is found that the most connected nodes are far more likely than average nodes to trigger cascades, but not in the second regime. Finally, it is shown that heterogeneity plays an ambiguous role in determining a system's stability: increasingly heterogeneous thresholds make the system more vulnerable to global cascades; but an increasingly heterogeneous degree distribution makes it less vulnerable.
TL;DR: A model based on these two ingredients reproduces the observed stationary scale-free distributions, which indicates that the development of large networks is governed by robust self-organizing phenomena that go beyond the particulars of the individual systems.
Abstract: Systems as diverse as genetic networks or the World Wide Web are best described as networks with complex topology. A common property of many large networks is that the vertex connectivities follow a scale-free power-law distribution. This feature was found to be a consequence of two generic mechanisms: (i) networks expand continuously by the addition of new vertices, and (ii) new vertices attach preferentially to sites that are already well connected. A model based on these two ingredients reproduces the observed stationary scale-free distributions, which indicates that the development of large networks is governed by robust self-organizing phenomena that go beyond the particulars of the individual systems.
28 Jul 2005
01 Jan 2001-Reviews of Modern Physics
TL;DR: In this paper, a simple model based on the power-law degree distribution of real networks was proposed, which was able to reproduce the power law degree distribution in real networks and to capture the evolution of networks, not just their static topology.
Abstract: The emergence of order in natural systems is a constant source of inspiration for both physical and biological sciences. While the spatial order characterizing for example the crystals has been the basis of many advances in contemporary physics, most complex systems in nature do not offer such high degree of order. Many of these systems form complex networks whose nodes are the elements of the system and edges represent the interactions between them. Traditionally complex networks have been described by the random graph theory founded in 1959 by Paul Erdohs and Alfred Renyi. One of the defining features of random graphs is that they are statistically homogeneous, and their degree distribution (characterizing the spread in the number of edges starting from a node) is a Poisson distribution. In contrast, recent empirical studies, including the work of our group, indicate that the topology of real networks is much richer than that of random graphs. In particular, the degree distribution of real networks is a power-law, indicating a heterogeneous topology in which the majority of the nodes have a small degree, but there is a significant fraction of highly connected nodes that play an important role in the connectivity of the network. The scale-free topology of real networks has very important consequences on their functioning. For example, we have discovered that scale-free networks are extremely resilient to the random disruption of their nodes. On the other hand, the selective removal of the nodes with highest degree induces a rapid breakdown of the network to isolated subparts that cannot communicate with each other. The non-trivial scaling of the degree distribution of real networks is also an indication of their assembly and evolution. Indeed, our modeling studies have shown us that there are general principles governing the evolution of networks. Most networks start from a small seed and grow by the addition of new nodes which attach to the nodes already in the system. This process obeys preferential attachment: the new nodes are more likely to connect to nodes with already high degree. We have proposed a simple model based on these two principles wich was able to reproduce the power-law degree distribution of real networks. Perhaps even more importantly, this model paved the way to a new paradigm of network modeling, trying to capture the evolution of networks, not just their static topology.
01 Jan 2003-Siam Review
TL;DR: Developments in this field are reviewed, including such concepts as the small-world effect, degree distributions, clustering, network correlations, random graph models, models of network growth and preferential attachment, and dynamical processes taking place on networks.
Abstract: Inspired by empirical studies of networked systems such as the Internet, social networks, and biological networks, researchers have in recent years developed a variety of techniques and models to help us understand or predict the behavior of these systems. Here we review developments in this field, including such concepts as the small-world effect, degree distributions, clustering, network correlations, random graph models, models of network growth and preferential attachment, and dynamical processes taking place on networks.
TL;DR: This article proposes a method for detecting communities, built around the idea of using centrality indices to find community boundaries, and tests it on computer-generated and real-world graphs whose community structure is already known and finds that the method detects this known structure with high sensitivity and reliability.
Abstract: A number of recent studies have focused on the statistical properties of networked systems such as social networks and the Worldwide Web. Researchers have concentrated particularly on a few properties that seem to be common to many networks: the small-world property, power-law degree distributions, and network transitivity. In this article, we highlight another property that is found in many networks, the property of community structure, in which network nodes are joined together in tightly knit groups, between which there are only looser connections. We propose a method for detecting such communities, built around the idea of using centrality indices to find community boundaries. We test our method on computer-generated and real-world graphs whose community structure is already known and find that the method detects this known structure with high sensitivity and reliability. We also apply the method to two networks whose community structure is not well known—a collaboration network and a food web—and find that it detects significant and informative community divisions in both cases.