- Series: Very Short Introductions
- Paperback: 136 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199588074
- ISBN-13: 978-0199588077
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.4 x 4.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Networks: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) 1st Edition
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About the Author
Guido Caldarelli is Associate Professor in the Institute of Complex Networks of the National Research Council in Rome, Italy. He is an expert of scale-free networks and self-similar phenomena, especially of the applications of network theory to information technology and biology.
Michele Catanzaro is a freelance science writer based in Barcelona, Spain.
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There are two things I particularly liked about the book. The first thing is that it provides us with an alternative way to understand familiar natural or social phenomena. Without network structures in mind, it is hard to understand why extinction of one species leads to extinction of other ostensibly unrelated species, or why African Americans are 1.3 times more likely to contract STI's than white counterparts. It is important to recognize the part network plays if we are to take any policy interventions to prevent extinction or spread of viruses, or else we can waste tons of resources for nothing. We can't see the forest for the trees.
The second thing is that author direct us to the idea of centrality without getting too technical. The number of links is one way to measure how important (or central) the node is, but it is just one way to do so. There are a few other useful ways to gauge the centrality and the authors explain what these are and how these can explain the phenomena that cannot be explained by a simple degree. My favorite example in the book was Anchorage airport, whose links are not that many but important nonetheless on the other metric (I'll stop right here because I don't want to spoil the surprise for you). Once again, the book makes us realize that we need to acknowledge not just the number of links each node has but also *how* it is placed in the network to detect where the choke point is or to construct robust networks.
A little drawback of the book is the lack of graphs. I was hoping to see more graphical representations. The author warns of the use of a graph to represent certain types of networks and I totally agree. But then there are occasions when a picture is worth a thousand words, and it is especially true when your subject is *graph* theory. For example, the explanation of transitivity could use a little graph, with just three nodes, which would have saved a lot of explanations. This is definitely not a deal breaker though.
Overall, an entertaining and easy-to-read introductory book on network.