The Small World Problem - Six Degrees of Separation






The phrase 'Six Degrees of Separation' is often used as a synonym for the idea of the 'the small world' phenomenon, that the modern world is shrinking, due to our ever increasing connectedness of humans. Despite the vast distances between people, and the growing population networking has made the actual social distance between us smaller. It's hypothesized that any two individuals could be connected through at the most five acquaintances.  





The theory of the 'Six Degrees of Separation' has boiled down to an urban myth today, but gaining interest among pop culture and if we are all really connected by about six people, that would mean in the future, with further advances in communication and the Internet the world will be getting a lot more smaller faster. Faster than ever before. 

The formula:

The average path length between two nodes in a random network is equal to ln N / ln K, where N = total nodes and K = acquaintances per node. Thus if N = 300,000,000 (90% of the US population) and K = 30 then Degrees of Separation = 19.5 / 3.4 = 5.7 and if N = 6,000,000,000 (90% of the World population) and K = 30 then Degrees of Separation = 22.5 / 3.4 = 6.6. (Assume 10% of population is too young to participate.)


Facebook, LinkedIn, Six-Degrees.com, Twitter they all know the formula and use it extensively. Americans are said to have a 'Three Degrees of Separation' already. They've invented a game called the 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' where you connect him to any other actor.

We should invent our own game; the 'Six Degrees of Anne Murray' we're only six steps away, eh?










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