Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Book on Internet

The purpose of this book is to provide a unified picture of the results obtained about the Internet in the context of different scientific communities by privileging the use of methods and concepts that have proven to be extremely useful in the analysis of more classical statistical physics systems. We shall therefore make a strong emphasis on the statistical regularities observed in the large-scale structure of the network, the so-called global Internet, and the importance of the dynamics in the formulation of adequate models. In doing this, we have made a special effort to bridge the language gap that might occur among different communities by devoting the two initial chapters to an outline of the Internet history and an elementary description of its functioning. This will allow us to build up a basic Internet glossary and outline the main elements that make the Internet work. We also provide an appendix summarizing the main concepts of graph theory that are used in the topological description of the Internet maps.

The road map of the book can be schematized in two main parts. The first six chapters are essentially devoted to the physical Internet. In these chapters we review the various experimental projects dealing with data collection, focusing on the various mapping strategies and the level of description achieved with different tools. Following, we present the statistical analysis of the most recent data available, discussing in detail the main topological features characterizing the Internet large-scale topology. The ensuing chapter contains an overview of models proposed to represent the Internet. Here we emphasize the `physicist'' point of view by introducing the reader to the modern field of growing network models. Finally, we report in Chapter 6 the analysis of the Internet resilience to damages by casting the problem in the general framework of phase transitions and percolation phenomena. The second part consisting of Chapters 7, 8 and 9 is instead focused on the virtual networks hosted by the Internet, such as the World-Wide-Web, peer-to-peer systems, and other social communities, and to dynamical phenomena that occur on them, such as search processes and epidemic spreading. Finally, Chapter 10 is a short discussion of important features that are likely going to represent the main challenges for a full understanding of the Internet in the near future.

The systematic study of the large-scale properties of the Internet and its view as a complex evolving network, while a relatively recent field, has generated quite a large number of works and a vast literature on the subject. We have made every effort to account and mention all the works relevant for a proper understanding of each chapter. It is, however, quite impossible to discuss in detail all the contributions to the field and we have therefore made some choices based on our perception of what is more relevant to the focus of the present book. We hope that our effort will result in a comprehensive and useful presentation of the subject to everybody working in the field, and more specially, to any researcher or student who intends to enter it. In this sense, by conveying the idea that the Internet is a paradigmatic example of complex system, we believe that the book can be of interest to computer scientists, physicists, and mathematicians alike.

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LPT, CNRS, Universite' Paris Sud (UPSUD)
91405 Orsay