19 clicks of separation: Web isn't so big after all
Not all webpages have an equal number of connections. Just like people, some pages are better connected than others.
Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 12:12 PM
It's a small Web after all. As the six-degrees of separation notion says that any two people are only six introductions away from one another, researchers claim that any two webpages are no more than 19 clicks apart.
The Royal Society, a scientific organization established in 1660, this week published a paper that has found a similar model works for the Web as well as it does for people. Despite the billions of pages on the Web, you can get from one page to any other in about 19 clicks, according to Albert-László Barabási, a networking theorist in the U.K. and member of the Society.
Barabási used network science to model the Web, finding it to be a ‘small world’ of about a trillion documents connected by relatively short paths.
The connectedness of pages mirrors the connections between people. Whether you're looking at a small town in Texas or the entire world, a minimal number of connections is required to link one individual with another. Similarly, Barabási found that the distribution of connections throughout the Web looks pretty much the same whether you're looking at a small section or the entire thing. Even if a majority of the pages were removed, some path from one page to any other is still likely to exist, he said.
But not all pages have an equal number of connections. Just like people, some pages are better connected than others. And here's the crucial difference: If several leaders in your town were to disappear, others would step into their shoes and town life would go on.
However, removing a relatively small number of the more highly connected Web pages would lead to the "disintegration of the network," Barabási said. Crucial connections could be broken, cutting off vast sections of the Web.
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