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The best-selling guide to network science, the revolutionary field that reveals the deep links between all forms of human social life A cocktail party. A terrorist cell. Ancient bacteria. An international conglomerate. All are networks, and all are a part of a surprising scientific revolution. In Linked, Albert-László Barabási, the nation's foremost expert in the new science of networks, takes us on an intellectual adventure to prove that social networks, corporations, and living organisms are more similar than previously thought. Barabási shows that grasping a full understanding of network science will someday allow us to design blue-chip businesses, stop the outbreak of deadly diseases, and influence the exchange of ideas and information. Just as James Gleick and the Erdos-Rényi model brought the discovery of chaos theory to the general public, Linked tells the story of the true science of the future and of experiments in statistical mechanics on the internet, all vital parts of what would eventually be called the Barabási-Albert model.
Information, disease, knowledge and just about everything else is disseminated through a complex series of networks made up of interconnected hubs, argues University of Notre Dame physics professor Barab si. These networks are replicated in every facet of human life: "There is a path between any two neurons in our brain, between any two companies in the world, between any two chemicals in our body. Nothing is excluded from this highly interconnected web of life." In accessible prose, Barab si guides readers through the mathematical foundation of these networks. He shows how they operate on the Power Law, the notion that "a few large events carry most of the action." The Web, for example, is "dominated by a few very highly connected nodes, or hubs... such as Yahoo! or Amazon.com." Barab si notes that "the fittest node will inevitably grow to become the biggest hub." The elegance and efficiency of these structures also makes them easy to infiltrate and sabotage; Barab si looks at modern society's vulnerability to terrorism, and at the networks formed by terrorist groups themselves. The book also gives readers a historical overview on the study of networks, which goes back to 18th-century Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler and includes the well-known "six degrees phenomenon" developed in 1967 by sociology professor Stanley Milgram. The book may remind readers of Steven Johnson's Emergence and with its emphasis on the mathematical underpinnings of social behavior Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (which Barab si discusses); those who haven't yet had their fill of this new subgenre should be interested in Barab si's lively and ambitious account.