Review: Cascading failures in complex networks

Lucas D. Valdez, Louis Shekhtman, Cristian E. la Rocca, Xin Zhang, Sergey V. Buldyrev, Paul A. Trunfio, Lidia A. Braunstein, Shlomo Havlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Cascading failure is a potentially devastating process that spreads on real-world complex networks and can impact the integrity of wide-ranging infrastructures, natural systems and societal cohesiveness. One of the essential features that create complex network vulnerability to failure propagation is the dependency among their components, exposing entire systems to significant risks from destabilizing hazards such as human attacks, natural disasters or internal breakdowns. Developing realistic models for cascading failures as well as strategies to halt and mitigate the failure propagation can point to new approaches to restoring and strengthening real-world networks. In this review, we summarize recent progress on models developed based on physics and complex network science to understand the mechanisms, dynamics and overall impact of cascading failures. We present models for cascading failures in single networks and interdependent networks and explain how different dynamic propagation mechanisms can lead to an abrupt collapse and a rich dynamic behaviour. Finally, we close the review with novel emerging strategies for containing cascades of failures and discuss open questions that remain to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Complex Networks
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Cascading failures
  • Complex networks
  • Network of networks
  • Network robustness
  • Percolation
  • Spatial networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Review: Cascading failures in complex networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this