Diffusion capacity of single and interconnected networks

Nat Commun. 2023 Apr 18;14(1):2217. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-37323-0.


Understanding diffusive processes in networks is a significant challenge in complexity science. Networks possess a diffusive potential that depends on their topological configuration, but diffusion also relies on the process and initial conditions. This article presents Diffusion Capacity, a concept that measures a node's potential to diffuse information based on a distance distribution that considers both geodesic and weighted shortest paths and dynamical features of the diffusion process. Diffusion Capacity thoroughly describes the role of individual nodes during a diffusion process and can identify structural modifications that may improve diffusion mechanisms. The article defines Diffusion Capacity for interconnected networks and introduces Relative Gain, which compares the performance of a node in a single structure versus an interconnected one. The method applies to a global climate network constructed from surface air temperature data, revealing a significant change in diffusion capacity around the year 2000, suggesting a loss of the planet's diffusion capacity that could contribute to the emergence of more frequent climatic events.