The inverse problem of finding the optimal network structure for a specific type of dynamical process stands out as one of the most challenging problems in network science. Focusing on the susceptible-infected-susceptible type of dynamics on annealed networks whose structures are fully characterized by the degree distribution, we develop an analytic framework to solve the inverse problem. We find that, for relatively low or high infection rates, the optimal degree distribution is unique, which consists of no more than two distinct nodal degrees. For intermediate infection rates, the optimal degree distribution is multitudinous and can have a broader support. We also find that, in general, the heterogeneity of the optimal networks decreases with the infection rate. A surprising phenomenon is the existence of a specific value of the infection rate for which any degree distribution would be optimal in generating maximum spreading prevalence. The analytic framework and the findings provide insights into the interplay between network structure and dynamical processes with practical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number012302
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 12 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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