Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e37911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037911. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Inferring general relations between network characteristics from specific network ensembles.

Author information

  • 1Bernstein Center Freiburg, University of Freiburg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.


Different network models have been suggested for the topology underlying complex interactions in natural systems. These models are aimed at replicating specific statistical features encountered in real-world networks. However, it is rarely considered to which degree the results obtained for one particular network class can be extrapolated to real-world networks. We address this issue by comparing different classical and more recently developed network models with respect to their ability to generate networks with large structural variability. In particular, we consider the statistical constraints which the respective construction scheme imposes on the generated networks. After having identified the most variable networks, we address the issue of which constraints are common to all network classes and are thus suitable candidates for being generic statistical laws of complex networks. In fact, we find that generic, not model-related dependencies between different network characteristics do exist. This makes it possible to infer global features from local ones using regression models trained on networks with high generalization power. Our results confirm and extend previous findings regarding the synchronization properties of neural networks. Our method seems especially relevant for large networks, which are difficult to map completely, like the neural networks in the brain. The structure of such large networks cannot be fully sampled with the present technology. Our approach provides a method to estimate global properties of under-sampled networks in good approximation. Finally, we demonstrate on three different data sets (C. elegans neuronal network, R. prowazekii metabolic network, and a network of synonyms extracted from Roget's Thesaurus) that real-world networks have statistical relations compatible with those obtained using regression models.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk