The work by Panos Oikonomou, a graduate student at the Physics Department, University of Chicago, recently caught my eye. His website explains that he is
… interested in studying the relationship between network topology, dynamics and evolution. I explore possible evolutionary advantages of such features, like the scale-free distribution.
He recently wrote a paper “Effects of topology on network evolution”, Panos Oikonomou and Philippe Cluzel, Nature Physics, August 2006.
In the paper, the authors compare the characteristics of a random network versus a scale free network. A random network is one in which each node has on the average the same number of connections to other nodes. For scale free networks, the connectivity follows a power law distribution. They tested how the two different networks ‘responded’ to evolutionary processes
Our simulations show that populations containing these scale-free networks can easily produce a number of functional variations which allow each population to evolve rapidly and smoothly towards some target function. By contrast, equivalent random networks evolve slowly, through a succession of rare fortuitous random mutations.