The distribution of first hitting times of randomwalks on Erdös-Rényi networks

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Analytical results for the distribution of first hitting times of random walks on Erdös-Rényi networks are presented. Starting from a random initial node, a random walker hops between adjacent nodes until it hits a node which it has already visited before. At this point, the path terminates. The path length, namely the number of steps, d, pursued by the random walker from the initial node up to its termination is called the first hitting time or the first intersection length. Using recursion equations, we obtain analytical results for the tail distribution of the path lengths, P(d>ℓ). The results are found to be in excellent agreement with numerical simulations. It is found that the distribution P(d>ℓ) follows a product of an exponential distribution and a Rayleigh distribution. The mean, median and standard deviation of this distribution are also calculated, in terms of the network size and its mean degree. The termination of an RW path may take place either by backtracking to the previous node or by retracing of its path, namely stepping into a node which has been visited two or more time steps earlier. We obtain analytical results for the probabilities, pb and pr, that the cause of termination will be backtracking or retracing, respectively. It is shown that in dilute networks the dominant termination scenario is backtracking while in dense networks most paths terminate by retracing. We also obtain expressions for the conditional distributions P(d = ℓ|b) and P(d = ℓ|r), for those paths which are terminated by backtracking or by retracing, respectively. These results provide useful insight into the general problem of survival analysis and the statistics of mortality rates when two or more termination scenarios coexist.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number115001
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number11
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Erdös-Rényi network
  • degree distribution
  • first hitting time
  • first intersection length
  • random network
  • random walk
  • self-avoiding walk


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