Resources, costs and epidemic thresholds in scale-free social networks

Chungyuan Huang*, Chuen-Tsai Sun, Chiaying Cheng, Yushiuan Tsai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Whether or not a critical threshold exists when epidemic diseases are spread in complex networks is a problem attracting attention from researchers in several disciplines. In 2001, Pastor-Satorras and Vespignani used a computational simulations approach to show that epidemic diseases which spread through scale-free social networks do not have positive critical thresholds. In other words, even if a disease has almost no chance of being transmitted from one person to another, it can still spread throughout a scale-free network. However, they ignored two key factors that have a large impact on epidemic dynamics: economic resource limitations and transmission costs. Every infection event entails tangible or intangible costs in terms of time, energy, or money to the carrier, recipient, or both. Here we apply an agent-based modeling and network-oriented computer simulation approach to analyze the influences of resource limitations and transmission costs on epidemic dynamics and critical thresholds in scale-free networks. Our results indicate that when those resources and costs are taken into consideration, the epidemic dynamics of scale-free networks are very similar to those of homogeneous networks, including the presence of significant critical thresholds. It is hoped that our data will help epidemiologists, public health professionals, and computer scientists working with core questions of epidemic diseases, estimates of epidemic dynamics and spreading, and effective public health policies and immunization strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th World Congress on Intelligent Control and Automation, WCICA'08
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 25 Sep 2008
Event7th World Congress on Intelligent Control and Automation, WCICA'08 - Chongqing, China
Duration: 25 Jun 200827 Jun 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of the World Congress on Intelligent Control and Automation (WCICA)


Conference7th World Congress on Intelligent Control and Automation, WCICA'08


  • Critical threshold
  • Economic resource limitations
  • Power-law degree distribution
  • Transmission costs

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