Benchmarking measures of network controllability on canonical graph models


The control of networked dynamical systems opens the possibility for new discoveries and therapies in systems biology and neuroscience. Recent theoretical advances provide candidate mechanisms by which a system can be driven from one pre-specified state to another, and computational approaches provide tools to test those mechanisms in real-world systems. Despite already having been applied to study network systems in biology and neuroscience, the practical performance of these tools and associated measures on simple networks with pre-specified structure has yet to be assessed. Here, we study the behavior of four control metrics (global, average, modal, and boundary controllability) on eight canonical graphs (including Erdős–Rényi, regular, small-world, random geometric, Barábasi–Albert preferential attachment, and several modular networks) with different edge weighting schemes (Gaussian, power-law, and two nonparametric distributions from brain networks, as examples of real-world systems). We observe that differences in global controllability across graph models are more salient when edge weight distributions are heavy-tailed as opposed to normal. In contrast, differences in average, modal, and boundary controllability across graph models (as well as across nodes in the graph) are more salient when edge weight distributions are less heavy-tailed. Across graph models and edge weighting schemes, average and modal controllability are negatively correlated with one another across nodes; yet, across graph instances, the relation between average and modal controllability can be positive, negative, or nonsignificant. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that controllability statistics (and their relations) differ across graphs with different topologies and that these differences can be muted or accentuated by differences in the edge weight distributions. More generally, our numerical studies motivate future analytical efforts to better understand the mathematical underpinnings of the relationship between graph topology and control, as well as efforts to design networks with specific control profiles.

Journal of Nonlinear Science