Network Biology, 2011, 1(3-4):159-170
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An algorithm for calculation of degree distribution and detection of network type: with application in food webs

WenJun Zhang1,2 , ChenYuan Zhan1
1School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
2International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Hong Kong

Received 5 June 2011; Accepted 19 July 2011; Published online 20 November 2011

In present study a Java algorithm to calculate degree distribution and detect network type was presented. Some indices, e.g., aggregation index, coefficient of variation, skewness, etc., were first suggested for detecting network type. Network types of some food webs reported in Interaction Web Database were determined using the algorithm. The results showed that the degree of most food webs was power law or exponentially distributed and they were complex networks. Different from classical distribution patterns (bionomial distribution, Poisson distribution, and power law distribution, etc.), both network type and network complexity can be calculated and compared using the indices above. We suggest that they should be used in the network analysis. In addition, we defined E, E=s2-, where and s2 is mean and variance of degree respectively, as the entropy of network. A more complex network has the larger entropy. If E0, the network is a random network and, it is a complex network if E>0.

Keywords network; food web; type; degree distribution; aggregation indices; entropy; algorithm; Java.

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