Four correlates of complex behavioral networks: Differentiation, behavior, connectivity, and compartmentalization: Carving networks at their joints

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Abstract

Some of the most complex networks are those that (i) have been engineered under selective pressure (either economic or evolutionary), and (ii) are capable of eliciting network-level behaviors. Some examples are nervous systems, ant colonies, electronic circuits and computer software. Here we provide evidence that many such selected, behavioral networks are similar in at least four respects. (1) Differentiation: Nodes of different types are used in a combinatorial fashion to build network structures through local connections, and networks accommodate more structure types via increasing the number of node types in the network (i.e., increasing differentiation), not via increasing the length of structures. (2) Behavior: Structures are themselves combined globally to implement behaviors, and networks accommodate a greater behavioral repertoire via increasing the number of lower-level behavior types (including structures), not via increasing the length of behaviors. (3) Connectivity: In order for structures in behavioral networks to combine with other structures within a fixed behavior length, the network must maintain an invariant network diameter, and this is accomplished via increasing network connectivity in larger networks. (4) Compartmentalization: Finally, for reasons of economical wiring, behavioral networks become increasingly parcellated. Special attention is given to nervous systems and computer software, but data from a variety of other behavioral selected networks are also provided, including ant colonies, electronic circuits, web sites and businesses. A general framework is introduced illuminating why behavioral selected networks share these four correlates. Because the four above features appear to apply to computer software as well as to biological networks, computer software provides a useful framework for comprehending the large-scale function and organization of biological networks. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity 10: 13–40, 2005

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