, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 273-293,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Challenges in network science: Applications to infrastructures, climate, social systems and economics

Abstract

Network theory has become one of the most visible theoretical frameworks that can be applied to the description, analysis, understanding, design and repair of multi-level complex systems. Complex networks occur everywhere, in man-made and human social systems, in organic and inorganic matter, from nano to macro scales, and in natural and anthropogenic structures. New applications are developed at an ever-increasing rate and the promise for future growth is high, since increasingly we interact with one another within these vital and complex environments. Despite all the great successes of this field, crucial aspects of multi-level complex systems have been largely ignored. Important challenges of network science are to take into account many of these missing realistic features such as strong coupling between networks (networks are not isolated), the dynamics of networks (networks are not static), interrelationships between structure, dynamics and function of networks, interdependencies in given networks (and other classes of links, including different signs of interactions), and spatial properties (including geographical aspects) of networks. This aim of this paper is to introduce and discuss the challenges that future network science needs to address, and how different disciplines will be accordingly affected.

Graphical abstract