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Identity and Search in Social Networks

Science  17 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5571, pp. 1302-1305
DOI: 10.1126/science.1070120

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Abstract

Social networks have the surprising property of being “searchable”: Ordinary people are capable of directing messages through their network of acquaintances to reach a specific but distant target person in only a few steps. We present a model that offers an explanation of social network searchability in terms of recognizable personal identities: sets of characteristics measured along a number of social dimensions. Our model defines a class of searchable networks and a method for searching them that may be applicable to many network search problems, including the location of data files in peer-to-peer networks, pages on the World Wide Web, and information in distributed databases.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: djw24{at}columbia.edu

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