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Section: Application Domains

Network Science

Network Science is a multidisciplinary body of knowledge, principally concerned with the emergence of global properties in a network of individual agents, from the “local” properties of this network, namely, the way agents interact with each other. The central model of “networks” is the graph (of Graph Theory/Operations Research), with nodes representing the different entities managing information and taking decisions, and the links representing the fact that entities interact, or not. Links are usually equipped with a “weight” that measures the intensity of interaction. Adding evolution rules to this quite elementary representation leads to dynamic network models, the properties of which Network Science tries to analyze.

A classical example of properties sought in networks is the famous “six degrees of separation” (or “small world”) property: how and why does it happen so frequently? Another ubiquitous property of real-life networks is the Zipf or “scale-free” distribution for degrees. Some of these properties, when properly exploited, lead to successful business opportunities: just consider the PageRank algorithm of Google, which miraculously connects the relevance of some Web information with the relevance of the other information that points to it.