A model of Internet topology using k-shell decomposition

Shai Carmi, Shlomo Havlin, Scott Kirkpatrick, Yuval Shavitt, Eran Shir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

578 Scopus citations


We study a map of the Internet (at the autonomous systems level), by introducing and using the method of k-shell decomposition and the methods of percolation theory and fractal geometry, to find a model for the structure of the Internet. In particular, our analysis uses information on the connectivity of the network shells to separate, in a unique (no parameters) way, the Internet into three subcomponents: (i) a nucleus that is a small (≈100 nodes), very well connected globally distributed subgraph; (ii) a fractal subcomponent that is able to connect the bulk of the Internet without congesting the nucleus, with self-similar properties and critical exponents predicted from percolation theory; and (iii) dendrite-like structures, usually isolated nodes that are connected to the rest of the network through the nucleus only. We show that our method of decomposition is robust and provides insight into the underlying structure of the Internet and its functional consequences. Our approach of decomposing the network is general and also useful when studying other complex networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11150-11154
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2007


  • Fractals
  • Networks
  • Percolation


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