The growth and evolution of networks has elicited considerable interest from the scientific community and a number of mechanistic models have been proposed to explain their observed degree distributions. Various microscopic processes have been incorporated in these models, among them, node and edge addition, vertex fitness and the deletion of nodes and edges. The existing models, however, focus on specific combinations of these processes and parameterize them in a way that makes it difficult to elucidate the role of the individual elementary mechanisms. We therefore formulated and solved a model that incorporates the minimal processes governing network evolution. Some contribute to growth such as the formation of connections between existing pair of vertices, while others capture deletion; the removal of a node with its corresponding edges, or the removal of an edge between a pair of vertices. We distinguish between these elementary mechanisms, identifying their specific role on network evolution.
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