Adaptation and optimization of biological transport networks

Dan Hu, David Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been hypothesized that topological structures of biological transport networks are consequences of energy optimization. Motivated by experimental observation, we propose that adaptation dynamics may underlie this optimization. In contrast to the global nature of optimization, our adaptation dynamics responds only to local information and can naturally incorporate fluctuations in flow distributions. The adaptation dynamics minimizes the global energy consumption to produce optimal networks, which may possess hierarchical loop structures in the presence of strong fluctuations in flow distribution. We further show that there may exist a new phase transition as there is a critical open probability of sinks, above which there are only trees for network structures whereas below which loops begin to emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138701
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 25 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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