June 10th, 2020


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Tinkering processes are one major driving force in the his-torical and evolutionary dynamics of complex networks. If duplication-divergence rules are responsible for network growth, they deeply constrain the structural outcome, creating graph correlations that are measurable and largely universal.
As a consequence, order comes for free: observable regularities are the expected result of amplification processes. Two impor-tant lessons are of relevance to evolutionary dynamics. The first is that convergent patterns found at the network level can be largely explained by the mathematics of network growth under reuse of parts. Second, a considerable amount of topological precursors required to develop adaptive traits and robustness are in place with no active selection.
These lessons can be extended to technological systems, where network organization has been shown to be irreduci-ble to the individual-level decisions based on rational engineering practices [127,128]. This irreducible complexity is at the core of the structuralist view of evolution [1,129] that has been particularly relevant within the context of development. Structuralism holds the view that self-organiz-ation and constraints play a leading role in defining the space of the possible, sometimes as a consequence of physical con-straints [130,131]. Our view is that topological constraints play a similar role in the context of network complexity.

Solé R, Valverde S. 2020 Evolving complexity: how tinkering shapes cells, software and ecological networks. Phil.Trans. R. Soc. B 375: 20190325.

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