Distribution of shortest path lengths in subcritical Erdos-Rényi networks

Eytan Katzav, Ofer Biham, Alexander K. Hartmann

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20 Scopus citations


Networks that are fragmented into small disconnected components are prevalent in a large variety of systems. These include the secure communication networks of commercial enterprises, government agencies, and illicit organizations, as well as networks that suffered multiple failures, attacks, or epidemics. The structural and statistical properties of such networks resemble those of subcritical random networks, which consist of finite components, whose sizes are nonextensive. Surprisingly, such networks do not exhibit the small-world property that is typical in supercritical random networks, where the mean distance between pairs of nodes scales logarithmically with the network size. Unlike supercritical networks whose structure has been studied extensively, subcritical networks have attracted relatively little attention. A special feature of these networks is that the statistical and geometric properties vary between different components and depend on their sizes and topologies. The overall statistics of the network can be obtained by a summation over all the components with suitable weights. We use a topological expansion to perform a systematic analysis of the degree distribution and the distribution of shortest path lengths (DSPL) on components of given sizes and topologies in subcritical Erdos-Rényi (ER) networks. From this expansion we obtain an exact analytical expression for the DSPL of the entire subcritical network, in the asymptotic limit. The DSPL, which accounts for all the pairs of nodes that reside on the same finite component (FC), is found to follow a geometric distribution of the form PFC(L=L<)=(1-c)c-1, where c<1 is the mean degree. Using computer simulations we calculate the DSPL in subcritical ER networks of increasing sizes and confirm the convergence to this asymptotic result. We also obtain exact asymptotic results for the mean distance, (L)FC, and for the standard deviation of the DSPL, σL,FC, and show that the simulation results converge to these asymptotic results. Using the duality relations between subcritical and supercritical ER networks, we obtain the DSPL on the nongiant components of ER networks above the percolation transition.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number012301
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2018

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© 2018 American Physical Society.


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