Reviving a failed network through microscopic interventions

Hillel Sanhedrai, Jianxi Gao, Amir Bashan, Moshe Schwartz, Shlomo Havlin, Baruch Barzel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From mass extinction to cell death, complex networked systems often exhibit abrupt dynamic transitions between desirable and undesirable states. These transitions are often caused by topological perturbations (such as node or link removal, or decreasing link strengths). The problem is that reversing the topological damage, namely, retrieving lost nodes or links or reinforcing weakened interactions, does not guarantee spontaneous recovery to the desired functional state. Indeed, many of the relevant systems exhibit a hysteresis phenomenon, remaining in the dysfunctional state, despite reconstructing their damaged topology. To address this challenge, we develop a two-step recovery scheme: first, topological reconstruction to the point where the system can be revived and then dynamic interventions to reignite the system’s lost functionality. By applying this method to a range of nonlinear network dynamics, we identify the recoverable phase of a complex system, a state in which the system can be reignited by microscopic interventions, for instance, controlling just a single node. Mapping the boundaries of this dynamical phase, we obtain guidelines for our two-step recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-349
Number of pages12
JournalNature Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


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