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November 2009 Contact processes on random graphs with power law degree distributions have critical value 0
Shirshendu Chatterjee, Rick Durrett
Ann. Probab. 37(6): 2332-2356 (November 2009). DOI: 10.1214/09-AOP471


If we consider the contact process with infection rate λ on a random graph on n vertices with power law degree distributions, mean field calculations suggest that the critical value λc of the infection rate is positive if the power α>3. Physicists seem to regard this as an established fact, since the result has recently been generalized to bipartite graphs by Gómez-Gardeñes et al. [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105 (2008) 1399–1404]. Here, we show that the critical value λc is zero for any value of α>3, and the contact process starting from all vertices infected, with a probability tending to 1 as n→∞, maintains a positive density of infected sites for time at least exp(n1−δ) for any δ>0. Using the last result, together with the contact process duality, we can establish the existence of a quasi-stationary distribution in which a randomly chosen vertex is occupied with probability ρ(λ). It is expected that ρ(λ)∼β as λ→0. Here we show that α−1≤β≤2α−3, and so β>2 for α>3. Thus even though the graph is locally tree-like, β does not take the mean field critical value β=1.


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Shirshendu Chatterjee. Rick Durrett. "Contact processes on random graphs with power law degree distributions have critical value 0." Ann. Probab. 37 (6) 2332 - 2356, November 2009.


Published: November 2009
First available in Project Euclid: 16 November 2009

zbMATH: 1205.60168
MathSciNet: MR2573560
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/09-AOP471

Primary: 60K35
Secondary: 05C80

Keywords: contact process , epidemic threshold , power-law random graph

Rights: Copyright © 2009 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.37 • No. 6 • November 2009
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