Schedule Sep 27, 2000
The Structure of Scientific Collaboration Networks
Dr. Mark Newman, Center for Applied Mathematics, Cornell University & Santa Fe Institute
The study of social networks -- maps of who knows whom -- has been hampered by the poor quality of the available data, which are mostly derived from field interviews in specific communities. In this talk, I will describe recent work, both empirical and theoretical, on the study of a large network for which the data are numerous and accurate, and which is of direct interest to us in academia; the network of collaborations between scientists, as revealed by the papers they write. Assuming two scientists to be connected if they have written a paper together, we have analyzed a number of large computer databases of publications to construct explicit networks and used these networks to answer questions like: Who are the best connected scientists in the world? Which scientists have the strongest collaborations? Which scientists connect most others together? HOw many "degrees of separation" are there between scientists on average? And what differences are there between collaboration networks in different disciplines? We have also constructed some exactly solvaable graph theoretical models of collaboration networks, which can help us to understand hwo much of what we see in our networks is just the result of random chance, and how much of it comes about through social interactions between scientists.

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