Another view of the Internet's fragility

October 4, 2005

The Internet may not be as vulnerable to centralized attacks as previously suggested, researchers in California reported Monday.

Researchers have built mathematical models of the Internet and used them to study the robustness of the system. One type of model, called a "scale-free" network, portrays the Internet as being unaffected by random component failures, but vulnerable to targeted attacks on highly connected hubs.

John Doyle and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology examined the abstract models and compared them with the organizing principles behind the Internet. They found that at the router level, the current Internet does not have most characteristics predicted by the scale-free models.

The authors also found technological, economic and mathematical reasons explaining why a functioning Internet could not be dominated by high-traffic hubs that render the entire network vulnerable to attacks.

The scientists propose a model involving optimization of tradeoffs under constraints.

"Understanding complex networks in technology and biology is increasingly important, since seemingly arcane aspects of their robustness and fragility are having greater impacts on everyone's lives," Doyle says.

The study appears in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Cells lacking nuclei struggle to move in 3-D environments

January 20, 2018

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have revealed new details of how the physical properties of the nucleus influence how cells can move around different environments - such as ...

Information engine operates with nearly perfect efficiency

January 19, 2018

Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine's efficiency ...

New research challenges existing models of black holes

January 19, 2018

Chris Packham, associate professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has collaborated on a new study that expands the scientific community's understanding of black holes in our galaxy ...

Team takes a deep look at memristors

January 19, 2018

In the race to build a computer that mimics the massive computational power of the human brain, researchers are increasingly turning to memristors, which can vary their electrical resistance based on the memory of past activity. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.