Scale-Free Networks: A Decade and Beyond

Barry Wellman posted on SOCNET a link to “Scale-Free Networks: A Decade and Beyond” by Albert-László Barabási. I quote two excerpts that I find interesting:

the scale-free nature of networks of key scientific interest, from protein interactions to social networks and from the network of interlinked documents that make up the WWW to the interconnected hardware behind the Internet, has been established beyond doubt

Regarding the scale-free nature of the Internet much has been written. However lately I came across two papers that specifically refute Barabási’s opinion on the matter:

  • Mathematics and the Internet: A Source of Enormous Confusion and Great Potential [pdf]
  • The ‘‘robust yet fragile’’ nature of the Internet [pdf]

So at least for the Internet the scale-free nature has not been established beyond doubt (The links for these papers were posted on Interesting-People). If anyone wishes to dive more into Internet topology stuff (and related mathematics) go read them! They provide a wealth of references too.

However, the second excerpt that I singled out is a prediction and a fascinating one I must say:

“If I dare to make a prediction for the next decade, it this: Thanks to the proliferation of the many electronic devices that we use on a daily basis, from cell phones to the Global Positioning Systems and the Internet, that capture everything from our communications to our whereabouts, the complex system that we are most likely to tackle first in a truly quantitative fashion may not be the cell or the Internet but rather society itself.”

Hmm… I think we know what the (long term) target of the next papers by Barabási’s team will be.

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