Many dynamic systems display complex emergent phenomena. By directly controlling a subset of system components (nodes) via external intervention it is possible to indirectly control every other component in the system. When the system is linear or can be approximated sufficiently well by a linear model, methods exist to identify the number and connectivity of a minimum set of external inputs (constituting a so-called minimal control topology, or MCT). In general, many MCTs exist for a given network; here we characterize a broad ensemble of empirical networks in terms of the fraction of nodes and edges that are always, sometimes, or never a part of an MCT. We study the relationships between the measures, and apply the methodology to the T-LGL leukemia signaling network as a case study. We show that the properties introduced in this report can be used to predict key components of biological networks, with potentially broad applications to network medicine.
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