terms of breakthrough ideas and models, the very best researchers must be recruited to do the work. To attract an elite group who will influence the future of network science, the Army must adapt its funding and management policies, possibly offering larger and longer-duration grants with few or no restrictions on citizenship, publication, and the like. The selection criteria would be excellence of research as judged by peer review and track records, relevance to Army objectives, and opportunities for Army involvement through inclusion of suitable Army personnel in the effort.

The committee envisions that the research efforts would be located at major research universities. An important aspect of the program might be a once-a-year conference at an Army laboratory or facility, where the principal investigators (PIs) would report on accomplishments during the year. The program needs enlightened management to support interdisciplinary work through the interaction of a diversity of PIs. A major theme of the program would be the achievement of fundamental advances in network-research-based statistical physics, applied mathematics, development of mathematical models of social phenomena, and other areas by generously funding only exceptionally talented individuals who are organized into a national social network.

Such a program would be the first to address the needs of network science per se. The program would focus on networks as coherent entities characterized by their architecture, structure, and dynamics. By deliberately adopting a broad theoretical and methodological focus, the program would encourage the creation of fundamentally novel ideas. A wide diversity of approaches is a key feature of long-term success. Keeping the goals broad and flexible would allow the Army to cultivate such diversity; a narrowly defined program would eliminate much of the creative potential that could lead to breakthroughs and new ideas. One way to do this would be for the Army to hold one or more workshops with appropriate personnel to determine the topical content for such a program.

The Army’s needs are broad and fundamental in nature: It must learn how to approach the creation of a predictive description of large, interacting, layered networks. A basic science program is the first step toward building up the critical mass of talent needed to address specific Army problems in this area. This modest approach would allow the Army to identify a relevant research community, and organize it so that, with time, it could be called upon to address specific needs.

The proposed approach differs from existing programs in agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in that it focuses on network science per se. While a significant amount of research is taking place in communities addressing the applications of networks, almost none of this research is funded by dedicated network science programs. Instead, researchers are funded by, for example, the NSF, to improve the Internet or to understand the statistical mechanics of complex systems, or the NIH, to uncover the features of specific organisms or biological processes. Because many of these research programs cannot avoid dealing with the network aspects of these problems, they divert some of their funding in that direction. Nevertheless, most of their work is focused on applying network ideas to specific systems rather than on developing new tools and ideas. Currently, no agency the committee knows of has a specific program devoted to network science. A research program on network science per se is a new concept, with unique and novel goals.

As a consequence of its discussions with Army and DOD representatives, the committee has come to realize that the fundamental problems underlying effective NCO lie in the social domain. Yet how people interact and utilize technology or make decisions based on shared knowledge are areas almost unexplored in the Army’s current basic research portfolio. The committee urges the Army to focus additional resources on the possible applications of network thinking to social, especially organizational, issues (Helper et al., 2000).2 Applications to biology, engineering, and the physical sciences are also essential to Army applications, but the Army is already funding research in these areas. The committee suggests that on the margin the most significant problem is not how to build better satellites, tanks, or medicines but rather is how to organize millions of individuals to collect intelligence, deliver supplies, and prosecute wars over an increasingly global, constantly shifting geographical and political playing field (Garstka and Alberts, 2004). This is a monumental problem that has not, however, traditionally been the province of science. Rather, it has been managed through a mixture of intuition, experience, and tradition. A significant fraction of the proposed program should address this organizational problem the way scientific problems are addressed: through a combination of theoretical modeling, data analysis, and controlled experimentation.

To illustrate the flavor of its thinking, the committee closes this scenario by indicating some promising research topics in four broad areas: network structure, network dynamics, network robustness and vulnerability, and network services. Each area has theoretical, empirical, and experimental components. Investments in basic research in each can provide value for the Army.

Network Structure

Advances in the applications of network research are limited by a lack of fundamental understanding of the structure, evolution, and topology of complex networks (Newman, 2003; Watts, 2004; Newman et al., 2005). Many network models have been formulated and studied by numerical

2  

C.F. Sabel, professor of law and social science, Columbia Law School, “Theory of a real-time revolution,” briefing to the 19th EGOS Colloquium, Copenhagen, July 2003.



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