Micro-Macro Analysis of Complex Networks

Complex systems have attracted considerable interest because of their wide range of applications, and are often studied via a “classic” approach: study a specific system, find a complex network behind it, and analyze the corresponding properties. This simple methodology has produced a great deal of interesting results, but relies on an often implicit underlying assumption: the level of detail on which the system is observed. However, in many situations, physical or abstract, the level of detail can be one out of many, and might also depend on intrinsic limitations in viewing the data with a different level of abstraction or precision. So, a fundamental question arises: do properties of a network depend on its level of observability, or are they invariant? If there is a dependence, then an apparently correct network modeling could in fact just be a bad approximation of the true behavior of a complex system. In order to answer this question, we propose a novel micro-macro analysis of complex systems that quantitatively describes how the structure of complex networks varies as a function of the detail level. To this extent, we have developed a new telescopic algorithm that abstracts from the local properties of a system and reconstructs the original structure according to a fuzziness level. This way we can study what happens when passing from a fine level of detail (“micro”) to a different scale level (“macro”), and analyze the corresponding behavior in this transition, obtaining a deeper spectrum analysis. The obtained results show that many important properties are not universally invariant with respect to the level of detail, but instead strongly depend on the specific level on which a network is observed. Therefore, caution should be taken in every situation where a complex network is considered, if its context allows for different levels of observability.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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