Using E-Mail to Count Connections ::: Is “ six degrees of separation” a myth or reality? A group of researchers at Columbia University are trying to establish how connected we really are. They plan on assembling a self-selected group of participants, and will then e-mail targeted individuals with the goal of reaching a group of other individuals. Once the chains complete, the researchers then want to identify whether there are any patterns we can learn from.
If successful, these guys could actually provide us with some interesting hypotheses for how to intelligently route data. One of the challenges in peer-to-peer (P2P) networks is that they can often fail when a large number of nodes request the same data from the same place. If they learn anything, they could help future P2P networks avoid the same congestion.
If you want to help them out, you can go to smallworld.sociology.columbia.edu and sign up. [From The New York Times]