Unraveling the structure of treelike networks from first-passage times of lazy random walkers
Published 2018-11-08Version 1
We study the problem of random search in finite networks with a tree topology, where it is expected that the distribution of the first-passage time F(t) decays exponentially. We show that the slope of the exponential tail is independent of the initial conditions of entering the tree in general, and scales exponentially or as a power law with the extent of the tree L, depending on the tendency p to jump toward the target node. It is unfeasible to uniquely determine L and p from measuring the tail slope or the mean first-passage time (MFPT) of an ordinary diffusion along the tree. To unravel the structure, we consider lazy random walkers that take steps with probability m when jumping on the nodes and return with probability q from the leaves. By deriving an exact analytical expression for the MFPT of the intermittent random walk, we verify that the structural information of the tree can be uniquely extracted by measuring the MFPT for two randomly chosen types of tracer particles with distinct experimental parameters m and q. We also address the applicability of our approach in the presence of disorder in the structure of the tree or statistical uncertainty in the experimental parameters.