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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2001 Feb;63(2 Pt 1):021117. Epub 2001 Jan 26.

Small worlds: how and why.

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Department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India.


We investigate small-world networks from the point of view of their origin. While the characteristics of small-world networks are now fairly well understood, there is as yet no work on what drives the emergence of such a network architecture. In situations such as neural or transportation networks, where a physical distance between the nodes of the network exists, we study whether the small-world topology arises as a consequence of a tradeoff between maximal connectivity and minimal wiring. Using simulated annealing, we study the properties of a randomly rewired network as the relative tradeoff between wiring and connectivity is varied. When the network seeks to minimize wiring, a regular graph results. At the other extreme, when connectivity is maximized, a "random" network is obtained. In the intermediate regime, a small-world network is formed. However, unlike the model of Watts and Strogatz [Nature 393, 440 (1998)], we find an alternate route to small-world behavior through the formation of hubs, small clusters where one vertex is connected to a large number of neighbors.

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