Empirical Analysis of an Evolving Social Network

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Science  06 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5757, pp. 88-90
DOI: 10.1126/science.1116869

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Social networks evolve over time, driven by the shared activities and affiliations of their members, by similarity of individuals' attributes, and by the closure of short network cycles. We analyzed a dynamic social network comprising 43,553 students, faculty, and staff at a large university, in which interactions between individuals are inferred from time-stamped e-mail headers recorded over one academic year and are matched with affiliations and attributes. We found that network evolution is dominated by a combination of effects arising from network topology itself and the organizational structure in which the network is embedded. In the absence of global perturbations, average network properties appear to approach an equilibrium state, whereas individual properties are unstable.

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