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The structure and behaviour of hierarchical infrastructure networks

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Craig Robson, Dr Alistair FordORCiD, Professor Philip James



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s).Critical services depend on infrastructure networks for their operation and any disruption to these networks can have significant impacts on society, the economy, and quality of life. Such networks can be characterised as graphs which can be used to understand their structural properties, and the effect on their behaviour and robustness to hazards. Using a suite of graphs and critical infrastructure networks, this study aims to show that networks which exhibit a hierarchical structure are more likely to be less robust comparatively to non-hierarchical networks when exposed to failures, including those which supply critical services. This study investigates the properties of a hierarchical structure through identifying a set of key characteristics from an ensemble of graph models which are then used in a comparative analysis against a suite of spatial critical infrastructure networks. A failure model is implemented and applied to understand the implications of hierarchical structures in real world networks for their robustness to perturbations. The study concludes that a set of three graph metrics, cycle basis, maximum betweenness centrality and assortativity coefficient, can be used to identify the extent of a hierarchy in graphs, where a lack of robustness is linked to the hierarchical structure, a feature exhibited in both graph models and infrastructure networks.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robson C, Barr S, Ford A, James P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Network Science

Year: 2021

Volume: 6

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/12/2021

Online publication date: 03/09/2021

Acceptance date: 02/07/2021

Date deposited: 17/06/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2364-8228

Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH


DOI: 10.1007/s41109-021-00404-4


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