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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Oct 14;100(21):12516-21. Epub 2003 Oct 3.

Information exchange and the robustness of organizational networks.

Author information

  • 1Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University, 420 W. 118th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA. peter.dodds@columbia.edu

Abstract

The dynamics of information exchange is an important but understudied aspect of collective communication, coordination, and problem solving in a wide range of distributed systems, both physical (e.g., the Internet) and social (e.g., business firms). In this paper, we introduce a model of organizational networks according to which links are added incrementally to a hierarchical backbone and test the resulting networks under variable conditions of information exchange. Our main result is the identification of a class of multiscale networks that reduce, over a wide range of environments, the likelihood that individual nodes will suffer congestion-related failure and that the network as a whole will disintegrate when failures do occur. We call this dual robustness property of multiscale networks "ultrarobustness." Furthermore, we find that multiscale networks attain most of their robustness with surprisingly few link additions, suggesting that ultrarobust organizational networks can be generated in an efficient and scalable manner. Our results are directly relevant to the relief of congestion in communication networks and also more broadly to activities, like distributed problem solving, that require individuals to exchange information in an unpredictable manner.

PMID:
14528009
PMCID:
PMC218789
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1534702100
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