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  1. Geometric graph models of systems as diverse as proteins, DNA assemblies, architected materials and robot swarms are useful abstract representations of these objects that also unify ways to study their properties and control them in space and time. While much work has been done in the context of characterizing the behaviour of these networks close to critical points associated with bond and rigidity percolation, isostaticity, etc., much less is known about floppy, underconstrained networks that are far more common in nature and technology. Here, we combine geometric rigidity and algebraic sparsity to provide a framework for identifying the zero energy floppy modes via a representation that illuminates the underlying hierarchy and modularity of the network and thence the control of its nestedness and locality. Our framework allows us to demonstrate a range of applications of this approach that include robotic reaching tasks with motion primitives, and predicting the linear and nonlinear response of elastic networks based solely on infinitesimal rigidity and sparsity, which we test using physical experiments. Our approach is thus likely to be of use broadly in dissecting the geometrical properties of floppy networks using algebraic sparsity to optimize their function and performance.

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