Networks: A Very Short Introduction

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OUP Oxford, Oct 25, 2012 - Computers - 122 pages
From ecosystems to Facebook, from the Internet to the global financial market, some of the most important and familiar natural systems and social phenomena are based on a networked structure. It is impossible to understand the spread of an epidemic, a computer virus, large-scale blackouts, or massive extinctions without taking into account the network structure that underlies all these phenomena. In this Very Short Introduction, Guido Caldarelli and Michele Catanzaro discuss the nature and variety of networks, using everyday examples from society, technology, nature, and history to explain and understand the science of network theory. They show the ubiquitous role of networks; how networks self-organize; why the rich get richer; and how networks can spontaneously collapse. They conclude by highlighting how the findings of complex network theory have very wide and important applications in genetics, ecology, communications, economics, and sociology. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
 

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The rise of Internet has put the idea of networks in the forefront of public consciousness, which has only been accentuated with the arrival of (online) social networks. However, explicit or implicit networks are a very salient part of our lives and have been so for quite some time: roads and railroads, kinship networks, commercial networks, are all just some of the examples of networks that we come across all the time. And then there are predator-pray networks, protein interaction networks, and a myriad other examples of networking phenomena. Once you adapt the network paradigm as a guiding principle of organizing the world you start seeing networks everywhere.
This is a very short introduction to networks which covers both the concrete examples of networks as well as the their theoretical description. There are many interesting historical vignettes in it, and quite a few conceptual insights. It is a very well written and resourced book. It has all the qualities that one has come to associate with these short introductions – written by an expert in the field, and yet accessible to a wide range of readers. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in networks of any sort.
 

Contents

1 A network point of view on the world
1
2 A fruitful approach
7
3 A world of networks
23
4 Connected and close
42
5 Superconnectors
54
6 Emergence of networks
66
7 Digging deeper into networks
80
8 Perfect storms in networks
94
9 All the worlds a net or not?
110
Further reading
115
Index
117
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About the author (2012)


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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