Institute for Software Research International
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


A Formal Characterization of Cellular Networks

Terrill L. Frantz, Kathleen M. Carley

September 2005

Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems
CASOS Technical Report


Keywords: Social network, cellular network, cell, cell-core, k-cell, covert network

We present precise and explicit, definitions and descriptions of pertinent terms and constructs related to a specific type of network topology -- the cellular network. First, we clarify the construct of a cell and establish the concept of a cell-core and cell-periphery; next, we present details of the broader, cellular network. Further, we introduce the notion of a k-cell subgraph construct. Throughout the report, we introduce several supplementary terms related to these concepts. The terminology and formalization we present can be effectively utilized when conversing about real-world social networks, but may be essential as guidelines when constructing cellular social-networks for virtual experiments. Increasingly, the network form referred to as "cellular" is appearing in empirical social-network studies and is being applied in virtual experiments of social-networks. The presence of a cellular network is particularly prominent in research pertaining to covert and terrorist organizations; although, the form can be found in other less saturnine situations. While the structure of a cellular network is often rather intuitive, to avoid confusion researchers, analysts and especially experimenters have need for formal definitions and precise a description of the topology. To date, no such formalization of the cellular network topology--in the context of social networks--has been published.

14 pages

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