On Mar 31st, Liang Tian, a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard Medical School, gave an invited talk about his most recent publication on Nature Communications: Articulation Points in Complex Networks. This work has impacts on many domains from the design of resilient infrastructure networks to the disruption of terrorist communication networks.
An articulation point in a network is a node whose removal disconnects the network. Those nodes play key roles in ensuring connectivity of many real-world networks, from infrastructure networks to protein interaction networks and terrorist communication networks. Despite their fundamental importance, a general framework of studying articulation points in complex networks is lacking. Here we develop analytical tools to study key issues pertinent to articulation points, such as the expected number of them and the network vulnerability against their removal, in an arbitrary complex network. We find that a greedy articulation point removal process provides us a different perspective on the organizational principles of complex networks. Moreover, this process results in a rich phase diagram with two fundamentally different types of percolation transitions. Our results shed light on the design of more resilient infrastructure networks and the effective destruction of terrorist communication networks.