Network Science

Distribution of node characteristics in complex networks

Our enhanced ability to map the structure of various complex networks is increasingly accompanied by the possibility of independently identifying the functional characteristics of each node. Although this led to the observation that nodes with similar characteristics have a tendency to link to each other, in general we lack the tools to quantify the interplay between node properties and the structure of the underlying network. Here we show that when nodes in a network belong to two distinct classes, two independent parameters are needed to capture the detailed interplay between the network structure and node properties. We find that the network structure significantly limits the values of these parameters, requiring a phase diagram to uniquely characterize the configurations available to the system. The phase diagram shows a remarkable independence from the network size, a finding that, together with a proposed heuristic algorithm, allows us to determine its shape even for large networks. To test the usefulness of the developed methods, we apply them to biological and socioeconomic systems, finding that protein functions and mobile phone usage occupy distinct regions of the phase diagram, indicating that the proposed parameters have a strong discriminating power.


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