In this paper, we explore the relationship between the topological characteristics of a complex network and its robustness to sustained targeted attacks. Using synthesised scale-free, small-world and random networks, we look at a number of network measures, including assortativity, modularity, average path length, clustering coefficient, rich club profiles and scale-free exponent (where applicable) of a network, and how each of these influence the robustness of a network under targeted attacks. We use an established robustness coefficient to measure topological robustness, and consider sustained targeted attacks by order of node degree. With respect to scale-free networks, we show that assortativity, modularity and average path length have a positive correlation with network robustness, whereas clustering coefficient has a negative correlation. We did not find any correlation between scale-free exponent and robustness, or rich-club profiles and robustness. The robustness of small-world networks on the other hand, show substantial positive correlations with assortativity, modularity, clustering coefficient and average path length. In comparison, the robustness of Erdos-Renyi random networks did not have any significant correlation with any of the network properties considered. A significant observation is that high clustering decreases topological robustness in scale-free networks, yet it increases topological robustness in small-world networks. Our results highlight the importance of topological characteristics in influencing network robustness, and illustrate design strategies network designers can use to increase the robustness of scale-free and small-world networks under sustained targeted attacks.
Evolutionary game theory is used to model the evolution of competing strategies in a population of players. Evolutionary stability of a strategy is a dynamic equilibrium, in which any competing mutated strategy would be wiped out from a population. If a strategy is weak evolutionarily stable, the competing strategy may manage to survive within the network. Understanding the network-related factors that affect the evolutionary stability of a strategy would be critical in making accurate predictions about the behaviour of a strategy in a real-world strategic decision making environment. In this work, we evaluate the effect of network topology on the evolutionary stability of a strategy. We focus on two well-known strategies known as the Zero-determinant strategy and the Pavlov strategy. Zero-determinant strategies have been shown to be evolutionarily unstable in a well-mixed population of players. We identify that the Zero-determinant strategy may survive, and may even dominate in a population of players connected through a non-homogeneous network. We introduce the concept of ‘topological stability’ to denote this phenomenon. We argue that not only the network topology, but also the evolutionary process applied and the initial distribution of strategies are critical in determining the evolutionary stability of strategies. Further, we observe that topological stability could affect other well-known strategies as well, such as the general cooperator strategy and the cooperator strategy. Our observations suggest that the variation of evolutionary stability due to topological stability of strategies may be more prevalent in the social context of strategic evolution, in comparison to the biological context.