Convergence of contracting networks towards an asymptotic maximum-entropy structure

  Ido Tishby [1]  ,  Ofer Biham [1]  ,  Eytan Katzav [1]  
[1] Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel

In a highly influential paper twenty years ago, Barabási and Albert [Science 286, 509 (1999)] showed that networks undergoing generic growth processes with preferential attachment evolve towards scale-free structures. In any finite system, the growth eventually stalls and is likely to be followed by a phase of network contraction due to node failures, attacks or epidemics. Using the master equation formulation and computer simulations we analyze the structural evolution of networks subjected to contraction processes via random, preferential and propagating node deletions. We show that the contracting networks converge towards an Erdös-Rényi network structure whose mean degree continues to decrease as the contraction proceeds. This is manifested by the convergence of the degree distribution towards a Poisson distribution and the loss of degree-degree correlations.