Network | Network Encyclopedia

What is a Network?

A network is a set of entities, known as nodes, connected by relationships or interactions, referred to as edges. Networks are used to model and analyze complex systems across various disciplines, such as sociology, biology, computer science, and more. They help in understanding how components within a system interact, revealing insights into patterns, dynamics, and overall structure.

Types of Networks

There are numerous types of networks, including but not limited to these examples:
  1. Social Networks: Connections between individuals or organizations.
  2. Information Networks: Distribution paths for information, like the internet.
  3. Biological Networks: Biological interactions, such as neural or ecological connections.
  4. Technological Networks: Infrastructure networks, including the internet, power grids, and transportation systems.


Networks serve as models for understanding many different types of phenomenon that involve interconnected entities. Here are some examples.
  1. Epidemiology: Understanding how diseases spread within social or physical networks to improve prevention and control strategies.
  2. Market Analysis: Identifying key influencers and understanding customer interactions to enhance marketing strategies.
  3. Operational Efficiency: Optimizing networks like supply chains or transportation systems for improved performance and reliability.
  4. Social Change: Leveraging network dynamics to foster social innovation and drive collective action towards shared goals.

Key Features

All networks include these essential elements: nodes, edges between them, and a resulting topology of connections.
  • Nodes: In SNA, nodes represent the individual entities within the network, such as people, organizations, or computers.
  • Edges: Edges are the connections between nodes, signifying relationships or interactions, which can be directed (one-way) or undirected (two-way).
  • Network Topology: This refers to the overall structure of the network, including its density, connectivity, and the presence of sub-networks or cliques


Networks provide a foundational concept for exploring and understanding the complex interdependencies and interactions that characterize many aspects of the natural and human-made world. Through the lens of network science and SNA, researchers and practitioners can uncover patterns and principles that inform strategies for innovation, collaboration, and intervention across a wide range of fields and disciplines. As such, the study of networks remains a vital area of inquiry with broad implications for society and technology.

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