Statistical mechanics of distribution networks

  • Diar Nasiev

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis presents an analysis of the stability of complex distribution networks.
We present a stability analysis against cascading failures. We propose a spin [binary] model, based on concepts of statistical mechanics. We test macroscopic properties of distribution networks with respect to various topological structures and distributions of microparameters. The equilibrium properties of the systems are obtained in a statistical mechanics framework by application of the replica method. We demonstrate the validity of our approach by comparing it with Monte Carlo simulations. We analyse the network properties in terms of phase diagrams and found both qualitative and quantitative dependence of the network properties on the network structure and macroparameters. The structure of the phase diagrams points at the existence of phase transition and the presence of stable and metastable states in the system.
We also present an analysis of robustness against overloading in the distribution networks. We propose a model that describes a distribution process in a network. The model incorporates the currents between any connected hubs in the network, local constraints in the form of Kirchoff's law and a global optimizational criterion. The flow of currents in the system is driven by the consumption. We study two principal types of model: infinite and finite link capacity. The key properties are the distributions of currents in the system. We again use a statistical mechanics framework to describe the currents in the system in
terms of macroscopic parameters. In order to obtain observable properties we apply the replica method. We are able to assess the criticality of the level of demand with respect to the available resources and the architecture of the network. Furthermore, the parts of the system, where critical currents may emerge, can be identified. This, in turn, provides us
with the characteristic description of the spread of the overloading in the systems.
Date of AwardSept 2009
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJort Van Mourik (Supervisor)


  • distribution networks
  • complex networks
  • statistical physics
  • replica method

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