WhaleTech: Six degrees of Kevin Bacon, and now? 19 clicks

via Opte Project

via Opte Project

 

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

Someone looked into the same concept, for web pages:  

No one knows for sure how many individual pages are on the web, but right now, it’s estimated that there are more than 14 billion. Recently, though, Hungarian physicist Albert-László Barabási discovered something surprising about this massive number: Like actors in Hollywood connected by Kevin Bacon, from every single one of these pages you can navigate to any other in 19 clicks or less.

Barabási’s findings, published yesterday in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, involved a simulated model of the web that he created to better understand its structure. He discovered that of the roughly 1 trillion web documents in existence—the aforementioned 14 billion-plus pages, along with every image, video or other file hosted on every single one of them—the vast majority are poorly connected, linked to perhaps just a few other pages or documents.

Distributed across the entire web, though, are a minority of pages—search engines, indexes and aggregators—that are very highly connected and can be used to move from area of the web to another. These nodes serve as the “Kevin Bacons” of the web, allowing users to navigate from most areas to most others in less than 19 clicks.

Interestingly, this means that no matter how large the web grows, the same interconnectedness will rule. Barabási analyzed the network looking at a variety of levels—examining anywhere from a tiny slice to the full 1 trillion documents—and found that regardless of scale, the same 19-click-or-less rule applied.

This arrangement, though, reveals cybersecurity risks. Barabási writes that knocking out a relatively small number of the crucial nodes that connect the web could isolate various pages and make it impossible to move from one to another. Of course, these vital nodes are among the most robustly protected parts of the web, but the findings still underline the significance of a few key pages.

If you want to know what this interconnected network really  looks like, visit the Opte Project.

 

Source: The Smithsonian

 


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  • there’s a similar game for wikipedia – hit the random article button and try to reach the Adolf Hitler wiki page in as few clicks as possible. So far there hasn’t been an article I haven’t been able to get through to the Hitler page from…

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