Decoding the architecture of vascular networks.
Eleni Katifori, Rockefeller University

Distribution and structural networks permeate virtually all life, from the cellular to the organismic level. They have allowed organisms to grow in size and complexity by ensuring efficient distribution of nutrients and structural support. Given their importance, these vascular and structural webs have been under strong evolutionary selection and their form frequently reflects important aspects of their function. Using optimization models we examine the design principles behind the evolution of the architecture and topology of vascular and structural networks. Standard complex network tools are not sufficiently nuanced to compare the highly nested architecture that is frequently observed in naturally occurring webs with in silico models. Thus, we develop an algorithmic framework that quantifies the hierarchical organization and topology of weighted graphs dominated by cycles and present some examples (leaf venation, arterial vasculature of the neocortex and others) that elucidates it.