Turing patterns in simplicial complexes


The spontaneous emergence of patterns in nature, such as stripes and spots, can be mathematically explained by reaction-diffusion systems. These patterns are often referred as Turing patterns to honor the seminal work of Alan Turing in the early 1950s. With the coming of age of network science, and with its related departure from diffusive nearest-neighbor interactions to long-range links between nodes, additional layers of complexity behind pattern formation have been discovered, including irregular spatiotemporal patterns.

Here we investigate the formation of Turing patterns in simplicial complexes, where links no longer connect just pairs of nodes but can connect three or more nodes. Such higher-order interactions are emerging as a new frontier in network science, in particular describing group interaction in various sociological and biological systems, so understanding pattern formation under these conditions is of the utmost importance.

We show that a canonical reaction-diffusion system defined over a simplicial complex yields Turing patterns that fundamentally differ from patterns observed in traditional networks. For example, we observe a stable distribution of Turing patterns where the fraction of nodes with reactant concentrations above the equilibrium point is exponentially related to the average degree of 2-simplexes, and we uncover parameter regions where Turing patterns will emerge only under higher-order interactions, but not under pairwise interactions.

S. Gao, L. Chang, M. Perc, Z. Wang, Turing patterns in simplicial complexes, Physical Review E 107 (2023) 014216.

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