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Emergence of fractal scaling in complex networks
Zong-Wen Wei and Bing-Hong Wang Phys. Rev. E 94, 032309 – Published 14 September 2016
Some real-world networks are shown to be fractal or self-similar. It is widespread that such a phenomenon originates from the repulsion between hubs or disassortativity. Here we show that this common belief fails to capture the causality. Our key insight to address it is to pinpoint links critical to fractality. Those links with small edge betweenness centrality (BC) constitute a special architecture called fractal reference system, which gives birth to the fractal structure of those reported networks. In contrast, a small amount of links with high BC enable small-world effects, hiding the intrinsic fractality. With enough of such links removed, fractal scaling spontaneously arises from nonfractal networks. Our results provide a multiple-scale view on the structure and dynamics and place fractality as a generic organizing principle of complex networks on a firmer ground.