Background Reading

These are interesting papers dealing with a variety of topics such as different domains where network analysis has proven useful, discussions of basic concepts, historical notes, etc. They will not be assigned specifically for any class. You should be familiar with these and similar papers if you want to understand the topics of networks and system architecture.

Kitanok, Hiroaki. “Systems Biology: A Brief Overview.” Science 295 (2002): 1662-1664.

Agre, Philip E. “Hierarchy and History in Simon’s “Architecture of Complexity.”” Journal of the Learning Sciences 12, no. 3 (2003).

Oltvai, Zoltan N., and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. “Life’s Complexity Pyramid.” Science 298 (2002): 763-764.

Network Science.” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780309653886.

Readings by Session

[Six Degrees] = Watts, Duncan. Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co., 2004. ISBN: 9780393325423.

1 Introduction and objectives ESD Symposium Committee. “ESD Terms and Definitions (Version 16).” March 29, 2002. Updated February 4, 2007 for ESD.342. (PDF)
2 Basic foundations for course emphasizing ways of thinking and biases

Six Degrees, chapters 1 and 2.

Newman, M. E. J. “The Structure and Function of Complex Networks.” SIAM Review 45, no. 2 (2003): 167-256. Read sections I and II. (PDF)

Crawley, Edward, et al. “The Influence of Architecture in Engineering Systems.” Cambridge, MA: MIT ESD Engineering Systems Monograph, March 2004. (PDF)

“Virtual Round Table on Ten Leading Questions for Network Research.” The European Phyiscal Journal B 38 (2004): 143-145.

3 Introduction to graphs, networks, hierarchies, and DSM’s

Hayes, Brian. “Graph Theory in Practice: Part 1.” American Scientist 88, no. 1 (2000): 9-13.

———. “Graph Theory in Practice: Part 2.” American Scientist 88, no. 2 (2000): 104-109.

Strogatz, Steven H. “Exploring Complex Networks.” Nature 410 (2001): 268-276.

4 MATLAB® and network representations Whitney, Daniel E. “Network Models and Basic Operations.” Cambridge, MA: MIT Engineering Systems Division, 2008. (PDF)
5 Discussion and identification of focus systems; project definition  
6 Basic network metrics and operations

Mahadevan, Priya, et al. “The Internet AS-Level Topology: Three Data Sources and One Definitive Metric.” ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review 36, no. 1 (2006): 17-26.

Whitney, Daniel E. “Basic Network Metrics.” Cambridge, MA: MIT Engineering Systems Division, 2008. (PDF)

7 Quantitative network fundamentals

Newman, M. E. J. “The Structure and Function of Complex Networks.” SIAM Review 45, no. 2 (2003): 167-256. Read section III. (PDF)

Six Degrees, chapters 3 and 4.

8 Canonical structures and their organizational implications  
9 Complexity and flexibility  
10 Constraints Whitney, Daniel E. “Physical Limits to Modularity.” Cambridge, MA: MIT Engineering Systems Division, 2005.
11 Network observational methods and quantitative metrics Whitney, Daniel E., and David Alderson. “Are Technological and Social Networks Really Different?” Paper presented at the International Conference on Complex Systems, Boston, MA, June 25-30, 2006. (PDF)
12 Student presentations on project status  
13 Random networks

Six Degrees, chapters 6, 7, and 8.

Newman, M. E. J. “The Structure and Function of Complex Networks.” SIAM Review 45, no. 2 (2003): 167-256. Read section IV. (PDF)

Watts, Duncan. “A Simple Model of Global Cascades on Random Networks.” PNAS 99, no. 9 (2002): 5766-5771.

14 Decomposition methods and modeling framework

Milo, R., S. Shen-Orr, et al. “Network Motifs: Simple Building Blocks of Complex Networks.” Science 298 (2002): 824-827.


Itzkovitz, Shalev, et al. “Coarse-Graining and Self-Dissimilarity of Complex Networks.” Physical Review E 71 (2005): 016127. (PDF)

Newman, M. E. J., and M. Girvan. “Finding and Evaluating Community Structure in Networks.” Physical Review E 69 (2004): 026113. (PDF - 1.7MB)

Hsieh, Mo-Han, and Christopher L. Magee. “An Algorithm and Metric for Network Decomposition from Similarity Matrices: Application to Positional Analysis.” Social Networks 30 (2008): 146-158.

15 Affiliation networks

Watts, Duncan, Peter Sheridan Dodds, and M. E. J. Newman. “Identity and Search in Social Networks.” Science 296 (2002): 1302-1305.

Six Degrees, chapter 5.


Kleinberg, Jon. “The Small-World Phenomenon: An Algorithmic Perspective.” Proceedings of the 32nd ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, 2000. (PDF)

16 Technological networks and constraints Gastner, Michael T., and M. E. J. Newman. “Shape and Efficiency in Spatial Distribution Networks.” Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment (2006): P01015.
17 Scaling and allometry as constraints

West, Geoffrey, James Brown, and Brian Enquist. “A General Model for the Origin of Scaling Laws in Biology.” Science 276, no. 5309 (1997): 122-126.


Chave, Jerome, and Simon Levin. “Scale and Scaling in Ecological and Economic Systems.” Environmental and Resource Economics 26, no. 4 (2003): 527-557. (PDF)

18 Organizational structures

Sloan, Alfred. “Co-Ordination by Committee,” “The Management: How it Works,” and “Change and Progress.” Chapters 7, 23, and 24 in My Years with General Motors. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1990. ISBN: 9780385042352.

Ouchi, William G. Theory Z. New York, NY: Avon Books, 1983. ISBN: 9780380594511. Read the introduction, and chapters 1-3.

Piore, Michael, and Charles Sabel. The Second Industrial Divide. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1986. ISBN: 9780465075614. Read chapters 6 and 9.

19 Advanced models of technological systems

Guimera, R., S. Mossa, et al. “The Worldwide Air Transportation Network: Anomalous Centrality, Community Structure, and Cities’ Global Roles.” PNAS 102, no. 22 (2005): 7794-7799.

Doyle, John, David Alderson, et al. “The “Robust Yet Fragile” Nature of the Internet.” PNAS 102, no. 41 (2005): 14497-14502.

20 Modeling organizational architecture

Dodds, Peter Sheridan, Duncan Watts, and Charles Sabel. “Information Exchange and the Robustness of Organizational Networks.” PNAS 100, no. 21 (2003): 12516-12521.


Sah, Raaj Kumar, and Joseph E. Stiglitz. “Committees, Hierarchies, and Polyarchies.” The Economic Journal 98, no. 391 (1988): 451-470.

21 Student project reports  
22 Studies of structure function and dynamics of complex systems

Koh, Heebyung, and Christopher L. Magee. “A Functional Approach for Studying Technological Progress: Extension to Energy Technology.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 75 (2008): 735–758.


Koh, Heebyung, and Christopher L. Magee. “A Functional Approach for Studying Technological Progress: Application to Information Technology.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 73 (2006): 1061–1083.

23 Standards and the practice of complex system architecture, reuse and standards

David, Paul, and Shane Greenstein. “The Economics of Compatibility Standards: An Introduction to Recent Research.” Economics of Innovation and New Technology 1 (1990): 3-41.


Cook, H. E., and A. Wu. “On the Valuation of Goods and the Selection of the Best Design Alternative.” Research in Engineering Design 13 (2001): 42-54.

24 Role of materials innovation; final presentations

Arbesman, Samuel, Jon Kleinberg, and Steven Strogatz. “Superlinear Scaling for Innovation in Cities.” Physical Review E 79 (2009): 016115.


Bettencourt, Luis, et al. “Growth, Innovation, Scaling, and the Pace of Life in Cities.” PNAS 104, no. 17 (2007): 7301-7306.

Magee, Christopher L. “The Role of Materials Innovation in Overall Technological Development.” Journal of Management 62, no. 3 (2010): 20-24.


Project presentations and course wrap-up

Discussion of quality of emerging models and theoretical needs


Course Info

Learning Resource Types

notes Lecture Notes
group_work Projects