Home > Application, Technology > 4.74 Degrees of Separation

4.74 Degrees of Separation


This story in the New York Times summarizes a recently published study about interconnectedness on Facebook.

http://goo.gl/sqIVT

A computational analysis of the 721 million worldwide Facebook users shows that the average distance between two people is about 4.74 “friends”.   Roughly speaking, given anyone in the world on Facebook, a friend of your friend is likely to be friends with a friend of their friend.

An amazing result!  And a cool application of graph and network theory.  Now the questions becomes “What can we do with this knowledge?”

Click here to see more in Application.

www.MrHonner.com

  1. December 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    “What can we do with this knowledge?”

    Well, there are already (technically) some applications, not only with social media, but even when it comes to programming or statistics.

    Statistically-wise, take Klout, for instance. As for programming, something as overlooked as a spell-checker uses this concept; in this case, it would be the “edit distance” for determining the best choices for correcting a word or phrase. It helps narrow down the possible words or phrases the user could have meant by finding perhaps the top x words/phrases, x being a positive integer (top 3, top 5, etc.). The shortest edit distance is the best match. It goes down from there, ‘going down’ referring to the pop-up list that you see when right-clicking the misspelled word (visually referring to Microsoft Word).

  2. December 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Interesting point about “edit distance”. I had never thought about viewing a dictionary (of both correctly and incorrectly spelled words) as a graph. Is that really how a spell-checker works? Fascinating.

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