Error and attack tolerance of layered complex networks

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2007 Aug;76(2 Pt 2):026103. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.76.026103. Epub 2007 Aug 9.


Many complex systems may be described by not one but a number of complex networks mapped on each other in a multi-layer structure. Because of the interactions and dependencies between these layers, the state of a single layer does not necessarily reflect well the state of the entire system. In this paper we study the robustness of five examples of two-layer complex systems: three real-life data sets in the fields of communication (the Internet), transportation (the European railway system), and biology (the human brain), and two models based on random graphs. In order to cover the whole range of features specific to these systems, we focus on two extreme policies of system's response to failures, no rerouting and full rerouting. Our main finding is that multi-layer systems are much more vulnerable to errors and intentional attacks than they appear from a single layer perspective.