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03-16-2005

Institute Of Physics Publishes Research By Two Clarkson University Professors

A research paper co-authored by Clarkson University Professor of Physics Daniel ben-Avraham and Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Erik Bollt has been published by the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society publication New Journal of Physics (NJP).

Understanding diffusion on scale-free networks gives insight on how an epidemic might traverse a social network, how a rumor might affect a social or economic network, and how undirected search engines could probe a computer network, to name a few applications. The two researchers study diffusion (random walks) on recursive scale-free graphs and contrast the results to similar studies in other soluble media. This allows them to identify ways in which diffusion in scale-free graphs is special.

The researchers also note that other attributes of the graph, besides scale-free distribution, have a strong influence on the nature of diffusion. This paper found a few surprises that dramatically distinguish diffusion on a scale-free network, as compared to the more intuitive lattice networks. For example, on scale-free networks there are much faster transit times between existing nodes as the network is grown, suggesting a previously unconsidered way to evaluate cost on current users of computer networks as networks infrastructures are grown. Another surprise is that in the infinite network size limit, random walks from most connected nodes are recurrent, contrary to initial intuition. This work represents a foundational advance to understanding of information and substance dissemination on these ubiquitous models of real-world networks.

Michael M. Donohoe of Institute of Physics Publishing reports that the research paper has been very well received by peer reviewers. The Clarkson University professors’ research is published as part of a special series in NJPs current celebratory focus issue on “Brownian Motion and Diffusion in the 21st Century.” Brownian motion is the continuous movement of microscopically small particles suspended in a fluid. NJP is presenting the series in recognition of the 2005 World Year of Physics.

The two researchers study diffusion (random walks) on recursive scale-free graphs and contrast the results to similar studies in other soluble media. This allows them to identify ways in which diffusion in scale-free graphs is special. The researchers also note that other attributes of the graph, besides scale-free distribution, have a strong influence on the nature of diffusion.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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