More on 6 degrees...

Graham Klyne gk-rdfweb at n...
Tue Jul 23 06:31:23 UTC 2002
In the late 1960s, social psychologist Stanley Milgram popularized his 
theory that there are an average of six intermediate people--"six degrees 
of separation"--connecting any two individuals chosen at random. Some 
mathematicians claim Milgram's small-world network theory can be applied to 
natural and technological systems. Cornell University's Steve Strogatz and 
graduate student Duncan Watts formulated theoretical models demonstrating 
that members of a large network can be linked by short paths, provided the 
networks consist of clumps of close associates and the occasional "random 
element." Watts set out to establish the existence of such social networks 
by studying the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and says that other 
systems-- the electrical power grid of the western United States or the 
path of an epidemic, for example--follow the same connectivity principle. 
Researchers are now tackling how to map out the reasoning and pathways 
through such networks: Watts is replicating Milgram's experiment with 
email, and has recruited 50,000 participants so far. However, skeptics such 
as University of Alaska psychologist Judith Kleinfeld question the validity 
of Milgram's theory. Kleinfeld, for one, says the Milgram archive at Yale 
University has no records of Milgram's experiments ever being precisely 

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Graham Klyne
<GK at N...>

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