Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Karthik Ramani

Committee Member 1

David Gleich

Committee Member 2

Niklas Elmqvist

Committee Member 3

Jitesh Panchal


Graphs are central tools to aid our understanding of biological, physical, and social systems. Graphs also play a key role in representing and understanding the visual world around us, 3D-shapes and 2D-images alike. In this dissertation, I propose the use of physical or natural phenomenon to understand graph structure. I investigate four phenomenon or laws in nature: (1) Brownian motion, (2) Gauss's law, (3) feedback loops, and (3) neural synapses, to discover patterns in graphs.