Optimization of Network Dynamics: Attributes and Artifacts

School of Mathematics Colloquium
Thursday, February 4, 2016 - 11:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 006
Northwestern University
The recent interest in network modeling has been largely driven by the prospect that network optimization will help us understand the workings of evolution in natural systems and the principles of efficient design in engineered systems. In this presentation, I will reflect on unanticipated properties observed in three classes of network optimization problems. First, I will discuss implications of optimization for the metabolic activity of living cells and its role in giving rise to the recently discovered phenomenon of synthetic rescues. I will then comment on the problem of controlling network dynamics and show that theoretical results on optimizing the number of driver nodes often only offer a conservative lower bound to the number actually needed in practice. Finally, I will discuss the sensitive dependence of network dynamics on network structure that emerges in the optimization of network topology for dynamical processes governed by eigenvalue spectra, such as synchronization and consensus processes. It follows that optimization is a double-edged sword for which desired and adverse effects can be exacerbated in network systems due to the high dimensionality of their phase spaces.