Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of by Mark Buchanan

By Mark Buchanan

As Chaos defined the technological know-how of illness, Nexus unearths the hot technology of connection and the ordinary good judgment of six levels of separation.

"If you ever desired to understand how many hyperlinks attach you and the Pope, or why while the U.S. Federal Reserve financial institution sneezes the worldwide economic system catches chilly, learn this book," writes John L. Casti (Santa Fe Institute). This "cogent and interesting" (Nature) paintings provides the basic rules of the rising box of "small-worlds" theory—the concept that a hidden development is the most important to how networks engage and alternate details, even if that community is the knowledge road or the firing of neurons within the mind. Mathematicians, physicists, desktop scientists, and social scientists are operating to decipher this advanced organizational process, for it might yield a blueprint of dynamic interactions inside of our actual in addition to social worlds.

Highlighting groundbreaking study in the back of community conception, "Mark Buchanan's sleek, lucid, nontechnical and exciting prose" (Mark Granovetter) files the mounting help between numerous disciplines for the small-worlds inspiration and demonstrates its useful purposes to assorted problems—from the unstable international economic climate or the Human Genome undertaking to the unfold of infectious ailment or ecological harm. Nexus is an exhilarating creation to the hidden geometry that weaves our lives so inextricably jointly.

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Extra resources for Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks

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Is the United States somehow special? That would seem unlikely. After all, it is hard to imagine that there is something fundamentally unique in the way Americans make friends and acquaintances that would make the American social network totally unlike that of Switzerland, Brazil, Japan, or any other country. What’s more, Milgram’s experiments do not provide the only evidence for a small world. A wealth of other indirect evidence points to the likelihood that the small-world property is a general feature of social networks of all kinds.

This, to put it mildly, is ridiculous. As social beings, we belong to neighborhoods, companies, schools, villages, and professions. Through work, I know colleagues, and they know not only me but each other as well. Playing bingo, Mabel will have met a number of friends, who will also be friends among themselves. The point is that people are decidedly not wired up at random all over the world. And this simple fact, what we might call the “clustering” of social connections, destroys the calculations we made for the random graph, which now appear as little more than a sterile exercise.

In the 1960s, an American psychologist named Stanley Milgram tried to form a picture of the web of interpersonal connections that link people into a community. To do so, he sent letters to a random selection of people living in Nebraska and Kansas, asking each of them to forward the letter to a stockbroker friend of his living in Boston, but he did not give them the address. To forward the letter, he asked them to send it only to someone they knew personally and whom they thought might be socially “closer” to the stockbroker.

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