Strength and weakness in diversity

2:54pm, April 25, 2003

The malfunction of one or more electronic communications junctions, or nodes, generally has little impact on the Internet as a whole. The global network's redundancy and diversity help it survive such problems, making it robust and reliable despite its complexity and enormous size. Cyberterrorist attacks aimed at the most highly connected nodes, however, can break up the network into isolated parts, says a team of physicists.

The combination of error tolerance and vulnerability to attack is a generic property of communication networks, contend Albert-László Barabási and his coworkers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, in the July 27 Nature.

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