AAAI Publications, 2011 AAAI Fall Symposium Series

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Geographic Distribution of Disruptions in Weighted Complex Networks: An Agent-Based Model of the U.S. Air Transportation Network
David C. Earnest

Last modified: 2011-11-03


International networks, although highly efficient, may produce surprising threshold effects that shift costs to geographically distant locations. International utility, transportation, and information networks facilitate the efficient flow of information, energy, goods and people. These networks exhibit a scale-free network structure with a few large “hubs”. Yet their efficiency belies their lack of robustness. Because such networks transcend national boundaries, furthermore, disruptions to the network in one geographic region may have profound economic and national security costs for countries in another region. To illustrate how complex networks may transmit costs among countries, this paper builds an agent-based model (ABM) of the international air transportation system. The ABM employs a genetic algorithm to identify “small” disruptions that produce cascading network failures. The study makes two contributions. First, it demonstrates how some complex networks evolve into network structures that trade off robustness for efficiency. Second, it illustrates how researchers can combine agent-based modeling, evolutionary computation, and network analysis to simulate differing failure modes for global networks. This convergence of simulation methodologies characterizes the emerging field of computational social science.


complex networks; genetic algorithms; air transportation; computational social science

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