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Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life Paperback

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Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life + Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age + Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452284392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452284395
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

How is the human brain like the AIDS epidemic? Ask physicist Albert-László Barabási and he'll explain them both in terms of networks of individual nodes connected via complex but understandable relationships. Linked: The New Science of Networks is his bright, accessible guide to the fundamentals underlying neurology, epidemiology, Internet traffic, and many other fields united by complexity.

Barabási's gift for concrete, nonmathematical explanations and penchant for eccentric humor would make the book thoroughly enjoyable even if the content weren't engaging. But the results of Barabási's research into the behavior of networks are deeply compelling. Not all networks are created equal, he says, and he shows how even fairly robust systems like the Internet could be crippled by taking out a few super-connected nodes, or hubs. His mathematical descriptions of this behavior are helping doctors, programmers, and security professionals design systems better suited to their needs. Linked presents the next step in complexity theory--from understanding chaos to practical applications. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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 Barabasi. 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, Barabasi 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." Barabasi 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; Barabasi 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 Barabasi discusses); those who haven't yet had their fill of this new subgenre should be interested in Barabasi's lively and ambitious account.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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This is an interesting book and is easy to read.
Power laws, scale-free topologies, disparate nodes --> centrally important hubs, and all the relationships and ramifications therein are discussed with great interest.
This book, in particular, discusses the application of network theory in the context of its historical significance.
Seeming Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By algo41 on January 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Linked focuses on network theory and some of its applications, where networks are defined as dynamic linear graphs. It is written for the non-mathematicians, and in fact does a very good job of giving the reader insight into how the mathematical modeler thinks and works, and what mathematical modeling is (the phrase "dynamic linear graphs" does not actually appear in the text). "Linked" is kind of an intellectual memoir, and especially in the first few chapters, is charming as well as informative. The problem is that Barabasi has an inflated view of the importance and primacy of his work and interests vis-a-vis the general subject of the theory of complex systems. Also, while Barbasi strikes me as intellectually honest, his lack of knowledge of such subjects as cellular biology leads him to erroneous claims for what insights may be attributed to recent work in network modeling. He is on stronger grounds when he discusses narrow subjects such as the links between corporate directors, and Barabasi does seem to know quite a bit about sociological modeling and the Internet. In terms of intellectual stimulation and excitement, Linked does not begin to match up with Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson, and I guess I was expecting something more comparable to that book.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By K. Sampanthar on July 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have focused this review on the audience of the book, since other reviews have quite adequately summarized the material.
There have been a lot of books recently that have been published on the new science of networks. Network theory and how it applies to many different fields from technology, marketing, biology, social science, terrorism, disease control etc. (Six Degrees by Duncan Watts, Nexus - Mark Buchanan, Smart Mobs - Howard Rheingold, Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell etc..).
Barabasi's is a welcome addition to the field and has a nice niche, which isn't filled by the other books. As some other reviewers have pointed this book is a popular science book, which means it covers scientific and mathematical theories at a very high level and makes these theories accessible to a wide audience. The niche lies somewhere between Gladwell's Tipping Point and Watt's Six Degrees. It is very well written and draws you in with stories that explore the theories. Some of the other reviewers have complained that Barabasi has done a disservice to the theories that he explains by making them too simplistic. I disagree, I actually found this book to be very rewarding, and a quick read, which is a sign of a well-written book. I have never been a fan of scientific and academic books that pride themselves on being totally incomprehensible. Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize winning physicist, once said that if someone truly understands a subject they should be able to explain it to a general audience without resorting to technical jargon (Feynman's Lectures on Physics Vol 1,2,3 are a perfect example). To be able to explain a complex subject you need to resort analogies, examples and stories. Stories give a framework for the general reader to absorb the complex material.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Professor Joseph L. McCauley on April 28, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Albert Barabasi presents the lay reader with a stimulating description of the origins of network theory and recent applications. He describes random networks, small world and scalefree networks. In nonrandom networks the importance of hubs is emphasized. Small world networks are the ones with a well defined averge number of links, and in scalefree ones the density of links scales as a power law. For the many interesting examples discussed, I would like to have seen graphs showing scaling over at least three decades in order to be convinced of scaling. However, in practice, whether a network scales or not may not be so important. I liked best the discussions of terrorism, AIDS, and biology. If one could locate the hubs, then a small world network could be destroyed, but as the author points out there is no systematic method for locating the hubs. Also, destroyed hubs in a terror network might be replaced rather fast, whereas airline hubs could not be replaced so quickly. The book might be seen as indicating a starting point to try to develop a branch of mathematical sociology. For example, the maintainance of ethnic identity outside the Heimat is discussed in terms of networking. Now for a little criticism.
I did not find the discussion of ‚the rich get richer` very helpful because network theory at this stage deals only with static geometry, not with empirically-based dynamics. In fact, the dynamics of financial markets have been described empirically accurately without using any notion of networking. In the text the phrase „economic stability" is used but stability is a dynamic idea, and there is no known empirical evidence from the analysis of real markets for any kind of stability.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Henderson on June 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Linked traces the developers and development of network theory from 1929 to 2002. Barabasi uniquely combines a sense of the theorist as a person and a personality with a summary of the theory they developed and the constraints it overturned. He also applies these theories to diverse areas from cellular biology to corporate boardrooms and Asian financial markets.
It's easy to see how this book is applicable to Al Qaeda and the current SARS epidemic as well as to your own approach to work. For example, in Chapter 4: Small Worlds, Barabasi relates the Strength of Weak Ties theory of Granovetter that in finding a job "our weak social ties are more important than our cherished strong friendships."
The most suprising thing about the book is that Barabasi takes a rather boring, paradoxically isolated area of dry intellectual inquiry and manages to convey how exciting and applicable network theory is to everyday life.
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