The quiet revolution: When complex left networks

Petter Holme

Soon after networks became all the rage among statistical physicists, the field turned away from the home turf of complex systems science. This blog post argues for considering network science as distinct from complexity science. All is sketchy and subjective (from the viewpoint of the statistical physicist jumping on the complex-networks bandwagon). I can think of many good counterarguments to what I write, so don’t be upset about it, but hopefully, it can give a new perspective.

The small-world network paper by Watts and Strogatz (Nature 1998) and scale-free ditto by Barabási and Albert (Science 1999) set off a once-in-a-lifetime boom of network research among statistical physicists. It certainly changed my life because I was one of the network boomers. Or maybe I should say “complex network boomers” because, at that time, it felt apparent that network science was a topic under the greater umbrella of complexity science: Small-world networks…

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