# Network theory

Network theory is an area of applied mathematics and part of graph theory. It has application in many disciplines including particle physics, computer science, biology, economics, operations research, and sociology. Network theory concerns itself with the study of graphs as a representation of either symmetric relations or, more generally, of asymmetric relations between discrete objects. Examples of which include logistical networks, the World Wide Web, gene regulatory networks, metabolic networks, social networks, epistemological networks, etc. See list of network theory topics for more examples.

## Network optimization

Network problems that involve finding an optimal way of doing something are studied under the name of combinatorial optimization. Examples include network flow, shortest path problem, transport problem, transshipment problem, location problem, matching problem, assignment problem, packing problem, routing problem, Critical Path Analysis and PERT (Program Evaluation & Review Technique).

## Network analysis

### Social network analysis

Social network analysis maps relationships between individuals in social networks.[1] Such individuals are often persons, but may be groups (including cliques and cohesive.blocks), organizations, nation-states, web sites, or citations between scholarly publications (scientometrics).

Network analysis, and its close cousin traffic analysis, has significant use in intelligence. By monitoring the communication patterns between the network nodes, its structure can be established. This can be used for uncovering insurgent networks of both hierarchical and leaderless nature.

### Biological network analysis

With the recent explosion of publicly available high throughput biological data, the analysis of molecular networks has gained significant interest. The type of analysis in this content are closely related to social network analysis, but often focusing on local patterns in the network. For example network motifs are small subgraphs that are over-represented in the network. Activity motifs are similar over-represented patterns in the attributes of nodes and edges in the network that are over represented given the network structure.

Link analysis is a subset of network analysis, exploring associations between objects. An example may be examining the addresses of suspects and victims, the telephone numbers they have dialed and financial transactions that they have partaken in during a given timeframe, and the familial relationships between these subjects as a part of police investigation. Link analysis here provides the crucial relationships and associations between very many objects of different types that are not apparent from isolated pieces of information. Computer-assisted or fully automatic computer-based link analysis is increasingly employed by banks and insurance agencies in fraud detection, by telecommunication operators in telecommunication network analysis, by medical sector in epidemiology and pharmacology, in law enforcement investigations, by search engines for relevance rating (and conversely by the spammers for spamdexing and by business owners for search engine optimization), and everywhere else where relationships between many objects have to be analyzed.

Several Web search ranking algorithms use link-based centrality metrics, including (in order of appearance) Marchiori's Hyper Search, Google's PageRank, Kleinberg's HITS algorithm, and the TrustRank algorithm. Link analysis is also conducted in information science and communication science in order to understand and extract information from the structure of collections of web pages. For example the analysis might be of the interlinking between politicians' web sites or blogs.

### Centrality measures

Information about the relative importance of nodes and edges in a graph can be obtained through centrality measures, widely used in disciplines like sociology. For example, eigenvector centrality uses the eigenvectors of the adjacency matrix to determine nodes that tend to be frequently visited.

## Spread of content in networks

Content in a complex network can spread via two major methods: conserved spread and non-conserved spread. [2] In conserved spread, the total amount of content that enters a complex network remains constant as it passes through. The model of conserved spread can best be represented by a pitcher containing a fixed amount of water being poured into a series of funnels connected by tubes (Figure 1). Here, the pitcher represents the original source and the water is the content being spread. The funnels and connecting tubing represent the nodes and the connections between nodes, respectively. As the water passes from one funnel into another, the water disappears instantly from the funnel that was previously exposed to the water. In non-conserved spread, the amount of content changes as it enters and passes through a complex network. The model of non-conserved spread can best be represented by a continuously running faucet running through a series of funnels connected by tubes (Figure 2). Here, the amount of water from the original source is infinite. Also, any funnels that have been exposed to the water continue to experience the water even as it passes into successive funnels. The non-conserved model is the most suitable for explaining the transmission of most infectious diseases.