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How is the human brain like the AIDS epidemic? Ask physicist Albert-László Barabási and he'll explain them both in terms of networks of individual nodes connected via complex but understandable relationships. Linked: The New Science of Networks is his bright, accessible guide to the fundamentals underlying neurology, epidemiology, Internet traffic, and many other fields united by complexity.
Barabási's gift for concrete, nonmathematical explanations and penchant for eccentric humor would make the book thoroughly enjoyable even if the content weren't engaging. But the results of Barabási's research into the behavior of networks are deeply compelling. Not all networks are created equal, he says, and he shows how even fairly robust systems like the Internet could be crippled by taking out a few super-connected nodes, or hubs. His mathematical descriptions of this behavior are helping doctors, programmers, and security professionals design systems better suited to their needs. Linked presents the next step in complexity theory--from understanding chaos to practical applications. --Rob Lightner
Information, disease, knowledge and just about everything else is disseminated through a complex series of networks made up of interconnected hubs, argues University of Notre Dame physics professor Barabasi. These networks are replicated in every facet of human life: "There is a path between any two neurons in our brain, between any two companies in the world, between any two chemicals in our body. Nothing is excluded from this highly interconnected web of life." In accessible prose, Barabasi guides readers through the mathematical foundation of these networks. He shows how they operate on the Power Law, the notion that "a few large events carry most of the action." The Web, for example, is "dominated by a few very highly connected nodes, or hubs... such as Yahoo! or Amazon.com." Barabasi notes that "the fittest node will inevitably grow to become the biggest hub." The elegance and efficiency of these structures also makes them easy to infiltrate and sabotage; Barabasi looks at modern society's vulnerability to terrorism, and at the networks formed by terrorist groups themselves. The book also gives readers a historical overview on the study of networks, which goes back to 18th-century Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler and includes the well-known "six degrees phenomenon" developed in 1967 by sociology professor Stanley Milgram. The book may remind readers of Steven Johnson's Emergence and with its emphasis on the mathematical underpinnings of social behavior Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (which Barabasi discusses); those who haven't yet had their fill of this new subgenre should be interested in Barabasi's lively and ambitious account.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
I first heard the author speak on NPR. Not only was I enthralled with his intelligence and clarity of thought, I was captivated by the promise of a new perspective on the... Read morePublished on June 28 2004 by Eric Flynn
I liked it. I read, but I rarely finish a book. I finished this one.Published on Feb. 23 2004 by Amazon Customer
After reading a third of the book, I finally gave up out of sheer disinterest. The way the book is presented would probably be ideal for a student of network dynamics, or even a... Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2004 by William Wagner
Barabasi's Linked is a pretty good intro to the science of networks. It covers much the same ground as Buchanan's Nexus including discussions about random v. Read morePublished on Dec 20 2003 by world class wreckin cru
In my opinion, Barabasi's book is a decent addition to the existing books on complexity and networks. The author himself is an acknowledged authority of the field of networks. Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2003
Popular science sells, no doubt about it. Authors like Barabasi
know how to exploit the science-thirsty public in the following way: their writing appeals to many people,... Read more
Barabasi gives an interesting account of what he and others have done in recent years in the field of networks. Read morePublished on June 17 2003 by Joel
Frankly, I found this to be an unusually challenging book to read the first time and therefore re-read it before organizing my thoughts for this review. Read morePublished on June 13 2003 by Robert Morris
For casual readers, this book is a wonderful book to spawn new ideas of networks and networking. Although the latter half is weaker in my perspective, I think this is a great book... Read morePublished on May 17 2003