Theory in Biosciences

, Volume 135, Issue 3, pp 101–110 | Cite as

Influence of network topology on cooperative problem-solving systems

  • José F. Fontanari
  • Francisco A. Rodrigues
Original Paper


The idea of a collective intelligence behind the complex natural structures built by organisms suggests that the organization of social networks is selected so as to optimize problem-solving competence at the group level. Here we study the influence of the social network topology on the performance of a group of agents whose task is to locate the global maxima of NK fitness landscapes. Agents cooperate by broadcasting messages informing on their fitness and use this information to imitate the fittest agent in their influence networks. In the case those messages convey accurate information on the proximity of the solution (i.e., for smooth fitness landscapes), we find that high connectivity as well as centralization boosts the group performance. For rugged landscapes, however, these characteristics are beneficial for small groups only. For large groups, it is advantageous to slow down the information transmission through the network to avoid local maximum traps. Long-range links and modularity have marginal effects on the performance of the group, except for a very narrow region of the model parameters.


Imitative learning Group size Social networks 



The research of JFF was partially supported by grant 2013/17131-0, São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), and by grant 303979/2013-5, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). FAR acknowledges CNPq (grant 305940/2010-4) and FAPESP (grant 2013/26416-9) for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Física de São CarlosUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciências Matemáticas e de ComputaçãoUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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