The relation between network structure and dynamics is determinant for the behavior of complex systems in numerous domains. An important long-standing problem concerns the properties of the networks that optimize the dynamics with respect to a given performance measure. Here, we show that such optimization can lead to sensitive dependence of the dynamics on the structure of the network. Specifically, using diffusively coupled systems as examples, we demonstrate that the stability of a dynamical state can exhibit sensitivity to unweighted structural perturbations (i.e., link removals and node additions) for undirected optimal networks and to weighted perturbations (i.e., small changes in link weights) for directed optimal networks. As mechanisms underlying this sensitivity, we identify discontinuous transitions occurring in the complement of undirected optimal networks and the prevalence of eigenvector degeneracy in directed optimal networks. These findings establish a unified characterization of networks optimized for dynamical stability, which we illustrate using Turing instability in activator-inhibitor systems, synchronization in power-grid networks, network diffusion, and several other network processes. Our results suggest that the network structure of a complex system operating near an optimum can potentially be fine-tuned for a significantly enhanced stability compared to what one might expect from simple extrapolation. On the other hand, they also suggest constraints on how close to the optimum the system can be in practice. Finally, the results have potential implications for biophysical networks, which have evolved under the competing pressures of optimizing fitness while remaining robust against perturbations.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Physical Review X|
|State||Published - Nov 28 2017|
- Complex Systems
- Nonlinear Dynamics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)