Global crash!

Published: Monday 15 January 2001

Recent computer simulations have shown that the Internet is surprisingly robust on a global scale. This means that even if up to 99 per cent of its connection 'points' break, it remains connected globally. But, if its most connected points get knocked out, it can crash. Two independent groups in Israel and USA have now supported these conclusions. The two groups use a technique used in geophysics called percolation theory. This deals with systems containing sites and the connections between them, and it analyses what happens to the system if some of the connections are removed.

Applying this technique to the Internet, R Cohen at Bar Ilan University, Israel and D Callaway at Cornell University, USA, has confirmed the previous results from computer simulations. The new results will help network architects to design networks so that they are most resistant to attacks ( Physical Review Letters , Vol 85, No 21).

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