How to Efficiently Dismantle Networks

Researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have examined how network dismantling could help contain the global spread of viruses through air transport more cost-effectively. One protective measure that is often discussed would be to close the biggest airport hubs and put them under quarantine. However, the researchers showed that there is a less radical and more effective way to achieve the same level of protection, while affecting far fewer passengers. The researchers found that it would cost four times less to close down a few medium-sized airports first instead of the largest hubs. This method would be equally as effective in containing the spread of a virus. The researchers studied this scenario for Europe, North America, and Asia as parts of the worldwide air traffic network, and showed that the closure of medium-sized airports would affect only 6% of global air passengers, while closing the largest hubs would affect 25%. The researchers determined which airports to close using the “dismantling problem,” which determines the nodes that need to be deactivated or removed from a network in order to disrupt the malfunctioning of a system.

More info here: ETH Zurich, Florian Meyer

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