Thursday, October 3, 2002

The Economist: Scale-Free Architecture

The shape of the Internet
It is less random than people thought Oct 3rd 2002 [ Science & Technology]

From the article:

Dr Barabasi [at University of Notre Dame] noticed that the World Wide Web (the most visible bit of the Internet) was scale-free in 1999. His observation touched off a flurry of research, and others pointed out that the Internet as a whole was scale-free, too. This has several implications. On the one hand, scale-free topology is resistant to random failures—one reason the Internet, despite the lack of artifice in its design, has proved so reliable. On the other hand, because there are disproportionately many hubs (as well-connected routers are known), the net is particularly susceptible to deliberate attacks on those hubs, the sort of thing that cyberterrorists might attempt.

The goal, Dr Barabasi says, is to create models that are statistically indistinguishable from the real Internet. When and if that is achieved, the models should have predictive, as well as descriptive, power.

I wasn’t familiar with “scale-free” – I’ll have to revisit this at some point to think about how the notion of “scale-free” architectures may help define communities.

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