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Linked: The New Science of Networks [Hardcover]

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi , Jennifer Frangos
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jun 2003
The first book to explore the hot new science of networks and their impact on nature, business, medicine, and everyday life. }In the 1980's, James Gleick's Chaos introduced the world to complexity. Now, Albert-Lszl Barabsi's Linked reveals the next major scientific leap: the study of networks. We've long suspected that we live in a small world, where everything is connected to everything else. Indeed, networks are pervasive--from the human brain to the Internet to the economy to our group of friends. These linkages, it turns out, aren't random. All networks, to the great surprise of scientists, have an underlying order and follow simple laws. Understanding the structure and behavior of these networks will help us do some amazing things, from designing the optimal organization of a firm to stopping a disease outbreak before it spreads catastrophically.In Linked, Barabsi, a physicist whose work has revolutionized the study of networks, traces the development of this rapidly unfolding science and introduces us to the scientists carrying out this pioneering work. These "new cartographers" are mapping networks in a wide range of scientific disciplines, proving that social networks, corporations, and cells are more similar than they are different, and providing important new insights into the interconnected world around us. This knowledge, says Barabsi, can shed light on the robustness of the Internet, the spread of fads and viruses, even the future of democracy. Engaging and authoritative, Linked provides an exciting preview of the next century in science, guaranteed to be transformed by these amazing discoveries.From Linked:This book has a simple message: think networks. It is about how networks emerge, what they look like, and how they evolve. It aims to develop a web-based view of nature, society, and technology, providing a unified framework to better understand issues ranging from the vulnerability of the Internet to the spread of diseases. Networks are present everywhere. All we need is an eye for them...We will see the challenges doctors face when they attempt to cure a disease by focusing on a single molecule or gene, disregarding the complex interconnected nature of the living matter. We will see that hackers are not alone in attacking networks: we all play Goliath, firing shots at a fragile ecological network that, without further support, could soon replicate our worst nightmares by turning us into an isolated group of species...Linked is meant to be an eye-opening trip that challenges you to walk across disciplines by stepping out of the box of reductionism. It is an invitation to explore link by link the next scientific revolution: the new science of networks. }

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Perseus Books; First Printing edition (Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738206679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738206677
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Review

"Captivating...Linked is a playful, even exuberant romp through an exciting new field."

About the Author

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is the Emil T. Hofman Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame. His seminal and varied contributions have been featured in Nature (cover story), Science, Science News, the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, American Scientist, Discover, Business Week, National Geographic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and New Scientist. He has been interviewed by BBC Radio, NPR, CBS, NBC, and ABC News, CNN, and many other media outlets.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the clearest, most original and most exciting popular-science books I have ever read. It manages to get across the main points of network theory with a minimum of technical jargon, and yet without oversimplification.
Many natural and artificial systems can profitably be viewed as networks in which a number of nodes are connected by links. For many years, the only networks that mathematicians studied were so-called 'random graphs' in which all nodes had more or less the same number of links. But in the late 1990s, when Albert Barabasi, a physicist at the University of Nortre Dame, began to study real networks such as the World Wide Web, he realised that they are rarely structured like random graphs. In most real networks, it turns out, the connectivity distribution decays as a power law - which means that there is no such thing as a 'typical node'. Instead, there are a few highly-connected nodes and many sparsely connected nodes.
Since then, Barabasi and his research team at Notre Dame have found many more examples of networks with this kind of structure, from the metabolic network of protein-protein interactions inside cells, to the social ties that link CEOs in the 'old-boy network'. Despite being composed of very different kinds of element, all these systems share certain interesting properties simply because they have similar structures. In other words, you can discover certain things about a network simply by looking at its connectivity.
All this is fascinating in its own right, but it's even better to get the message 'from the horse's mouth', rather than from a journalist. I've followed the author's papers in Nature with great interest over the past few years, but it was nice to have an overview of the whole field of network theory that stands back and presents the general context as well as the specific details.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
A very accessible book, which gently grounds the reader in the history of graph theory and networks without any pain, and then illustrates the applications and subsequent discoveries of this field through a number of diverse examples - the Internet; Hollywood; corporations; medicine.
There are 40pages of notes in the back of the book which open up a whole world of discovery on how networks can alter thinking and understanding in so many fields of interest.
Given that networks are such a visually appealing topic, it would have been nice to have had more illustrations in this book.
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great explanatory power! 3 July 2002
Format:Hardcover
Nowadays, everybody talks about networks. Yet, what networks really are and how they function, often remains rather vague in conversations. This book offers great insight into the evolution, the structure and the relevance of networks. The author, Albert Barabási, himself a creative and important
contributor to network science, makes the rapid and fascinating advances made in this field comprehensible.
Our world is filled with complex networks, webs of highly connected nodes. Not all nodes are equal, however. In fact, in many real-world complex networks, there is a typical hierarchy of nodes (called a POWERLAW DISTRIBUTION). This means there are a few extremely well connected nodes (these are called HUBS), there are quite a few moderately connected nodes and there are large numbers of tiny nodes (having very few connections to
other nodes). The Internet, for instance, has only several hubs -like amazon.com and Yahoo - and countless tiny nodes -like my own website :-(.
The structure of networks with a powerlaw distribution is called a SCALEFREE TOPOLOGY. Such a scale free topology is found in networks that 1)are GROWING (extra nodes and links emerge), and 2) are characterised by PREFERENTIAL ATTACHMENT (this means that some links are far more likely to get linked than others). Preferential attachment, is driven by two factors: 1) the number of links the node already has (this is in fact the first mover advantage: a nodes that has been there since the early evelopment of the network gets the biggest chance to get connected), and 2) the node's fitness (for instance a new website offering a truely unique service has an excellent chance to get many links).
A fascinating characteristic of scale free networks is the following.
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