System crash as dynamics of complex networks

Yi Yu, Gaoxi Xiao, Jie Zhou, Yubo Wang, Zhen Wang, Jürgen Kurths, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Complex systems, from animal herds to human nations, sometimes crash drastically. Although the growth and evolution of systems have been extensively studied, our understanding of how systems crash is still limited. It remains rather puzzling why some systems, appearing to be doomed to fail, manage to survive for a long time whereas some other systems, which seem to be too big or too strong to fail, crash rapidly. In this contribution, we propose a network-based system dynamics model, where individual actions based on the local information accessible in their respective system structures may lead to the "peculiar" dynamics of system crash mentioned above. Extensive simulations are carried out on synthetic and real-life networks, which further reveal the interesting system evolution leading to the final crash. Applications and possible extensions of the proposed model are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11726-11731
Number of pages6
Issue number42
Early online date3 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. This work is partially supported by the Ministry of
Education (MOE), Singapore, under Research Grants RG 69/12, RG 28/14,
MOE2013-T2-2-006, and MOE2014-T2-1-028. Part of this work is an outcome
of the Future Resilient Systems project at the Singapore-ETH (Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology in Zurich) Centre, which is funded by the National
Research Foundation of Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence
and Technological Enterprise program.


  • complex systems
  • system crash
  • pseudo-steady state
  • cascade behavior


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