Challenges for Europe and North America
NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research
Edited by Karst T. Geurs, Kevin J. Krizek and Aura Reggiani
Chapter 2: Accessibility, connectivity and resilience in complex networks
In the recent years there has been great interest in the interdisciplinary study of complex networks1 with special reference to the relevance of the connectivity structures. Surprisingly, scientists from many different disciplines (spatial economics, sociology, physics, biology, and so on) have simultaneously faced – although from different perspectives and with different aims – the issue of the emerging interaction processes (known as emergence’ phenomenon) as the result of complex (evolving) networks of connections between the different ‘units’ involved. The idea that underlies this approach is the belief that the topology (or architecture) of these interactions is an essential part of many processes; it cannot be ignored without losing a crucial ingredient of the phenomena concerned (Vega-Redondo, 2007). The topology issue implies a focus on the network configuration and its roperties (such as connectivity, centrality, clustering, and so on), in order to analyse the related impact on the behavioural dynamics of the network itself. Linked to the relevance of different network topologies is the issue of the different utility functions to access these networks, namely the role of accessibility in (physical and virtual) complex networks.2 In other words, the question is whether different network topologies can be grasped by different accessibility or utility functions. In addition, given the dynamic characteristics of complex networks, it is useful to examine the related type of (un)stable evolution and, consequently, which are the conditions that lead to the (structural) stability, robustness and resilience3 of the system in the presence of shock or perturbations. It seems, therefore, essential to build up an ‘interpretative’ phase, oriented to reflect on the existing theories and models, in the light of the possible empirical analyses and forecasts, and related policy issues. In other words, we need to explore the following methodological questions:
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