University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Brain Mapping Unit Networks Meeting and the Cambridge Connectome Consortium > Rich clubs and control benefits: A resource-based perspective on core-periphery structures in complex networks

Rich clubs and control benefits: A resource-based perspective on core-periphery structures in complex networks

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Research on core-periphery structures has converged on the idea that participation in core groups is a source of control benefits, legitimacy, entrenchment, and power. Despite the ubiquity and salience of core-periphery structures, however, there seems to be no agreement on how to define the core of a system. Previous studies have placed emphasis primarily on the level of topological coupling among the elements of a system, and selected as members of core groups those elements that are tightly connected with one another. However, whether topological coupling always correlates with control benefits and system dominance still remains largely unanswered. Do tightly knit groups always bestow control benefits upon their members? Or can a group of loosely connected elements dominate a system simply by leveraging on few yet strong linkages? To address these problems, in this talk I will adopt the framework of network theory and advocate a resource-based perspective on core-periphery structures. At the heart of this perspective is the idea that, when all elements of a system can be ranked according to some arbitrary richness parameter, the prominent ones at the top of the ranking may coalesce into exclusive rich clubs to gain control over the whole system. A group is qualified as a rich club when the amount of resources that members exchange with one another is disproportionally large when compared with other resources circulating in the system. Participation in rich clubs thus provides members with control benefits originating from collusions that secure exclusive access to resources. I situate the analysis of rich clubs in the context of transportation, human mobility, scientific collaboration, and online communication. Findings show that rich clubs can be detected in transportation and commuting systems, where more passengers travel between the largest airports than randomly expected, and the largest commuting locations or regions in a country tend to control and direct towards one another the vast majority of commuters. Similarly, rich clubs emerge in the scientific community, where the most productive scientists tend to engage in stronger collaborations than expected by chance. Furthermore, rich clubs in online communication arise as a result of the tendency of the most gregarious users to exchange a disproportionally large amount of messages with one another. The implications of these findings for research on core-periphery structures and the management and distribution of resources in complex networks will be discussed.

This talk is part of the Brain Mapping Unit Networks Meeting and the Cambridge Connectome Consortium series.

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