Márton Pósfai, Balázs Szegedy, Iva Bačić, Luka Blagojević, Miklós Abért, János Kertész, László Lovász, Albert-László Barabási
The emergence of detailed maps of physical networks, like the brain connectome, vascular networks, or composite networks in metamaterials, whose nodes and links are physical entities, have demonstrated the limits of the current network science toolset. Indeed, link physicality imposes a non-crossing condition that affects both the evolution and the structure of a network, in a way that is not captured by the adjacency matrix alone, the starting point of all graph-based approaches. Here we introduce a meta-graph that helps us discover an exact mapping between linear physical networks and independent sets, a central concept in graph theory. The mapping allows us to analytically derive both the onset of physical effects and the emergence of a jamming transition, and show that physicality impacts the network structure even when the total volume of the links is negligible. Finally, we construct the meta-graphs of several real physical networks, allowing us to predict functional features, like synapse formation in the brain connectome, in agreement with the empirical data. Overall, we find that once present, physicality fundamentally alters the structure of a network, changes that must be quantified to understand the underlying systems.
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