A Framework of Hierarchical Attacks to Network Controllability

Yang LOU, Lin WANG*, Guanrong CHEN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Network controllability robustness reflects how well a networked dynamical system can maintain its controllability against destructive attacks. This paper investigates the network controllability robustness from the perspective of a malicious attack. A framework of hierarchical attack is proposed, by means of edge- or node-removal attacks. Edges (or nodes) in a target network are classified hierarchically into categories, with different priorities to attack. The category of critical edges (or nodes) has the highest priority to be selected for attack. Extensive experiments on nine synthetic networks and nine real-world networks show the effectiveness of the proposed hierarchical attack strategies for destructing the network controllability. From the protection point of view, this study suggests that the critical edges and nodes should be hidden from the attackers. This finding helps better understand the network controllability and better design robust networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105780
JournalCommunications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.62002249, 61873167) and in part by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council under the GRF Grant CityU11206320.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Attack strategy
  • Complex network
  • Network controllability
  • Robustness


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