Vulnerability and Cosusceptibility Determine the Size of Network Cascades

Yang Yang, Takashi Nishikawa*, Adilson E. Motter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


In a network, a local disturbance can propagate and eventually cause a substantial part of the system to fail in cascade events that are easy to conceptualize but extraordinarily difficult to predict. Here, we develop a statistical framework that can predict cascade size distributions by incorporating two ingredients only: the vulnerability of individual components and the cosusceptibility of groups of components (i.e., their tendency to fail together). Using cascades in power grids as a representative example, we show that correlations between component failures define structured and often surprisingly large groups of cosusceptible components. Aside from their implications for blackout studies, these results provide insights and a new modeling framework for understanding cascades in financial systems, food webs, and complex networks in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number048301
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 27 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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