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Function and form in networks of interacting agents


  • Tanya Araújo
  • R. Vilela Mendes


The main problem we address in this paper is whether function determines form when a society of agents organizes itself for some purpose or whether the organizing method is more important than the functionality in determining the structure of the ensemble. As an example, we use a neural network that learns the function by two different learning methods. For sufficiently large networks, very different structures may indeed be obtained for the same functionality. Clustering, characteristic path length and hierarchy are structural differences, which in turn have implications on the robustness and adaptability of the networks. In networks, as opposed to simple graphs, the connections between the agents are not necessarily symmetrie and may have positive or negative signs. New characteristic coefficients are introduced to characterize this richer connectivity structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Tanya Araújo & R. Vilela Mendes, 2001. "Function and form in networks of interacting agents," Working Papers Department of Economics 2001/03, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
  • Handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp32001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. P. Giudici & A. Spelta, 2016. "Graphical Network Models for International Financial Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 128-138, January.
    2. Alessandro Spelta & Tanya Ara'ujo, 2011. "The topology of cross-border exposures: beyond the minimal spanning tree approach," Papers 1112.5711,
    3. Alessandro Spelta & Tanya Araujo, 2012. "Interlinkages and structural changes in cross-border liabilities: a network approach," Working Papers Department of Economics 2012/19, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    4. Spelta, Alessandro & Araújo, Tanya, 2012. "The topology of cross-border exposures: Beyond the minimal spanning tree approach," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 391(22), pages 5572-5583.
    5. Tanya Ara'ujo & Rui Faustino, 2016. "The Topology of Inter-industry Relations from the Portuguese National Accounts," Papers 1612.06291,
    6. Araújo, Tanya & Fontainha, Elsa, 2017. "The specific shapes of gender imbalance in scientific authorships: A network approach," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 88-102.

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    networks; agents; clustering; path length.;


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