Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life


A cocktail party? A terrorist cell? Ancient bacteria? An international conglomerate?

All are networks, and all are a part of a surprising scientific revolution. Albert-László Barabási, the nation’s foremost expert in the new science of networks and author of Bursts, takes us on an intellectual adventure to prove that social networks, corporations, and living organisms are more similar than previously thought. Grasping a full understanding of network science will someday allow us...

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A cocktail party? A terrorist cell? Ancient bacteria? An international conglomerate?

All are networks, and all are a part of a surprising scientific revolution. Albert-László Barabási, the nation’s foremost expert in the new science of networks and author of Bursts, takes us on an intellectual adventure to prove that social networks, corporations, and living organisms are more similar than previously thought. Grasping a full understanding of network science will someday allow us to design blue-chip businesses, stop the outbreak of deadly diseases, and influence the exchange of ideas and information. Just as James Gleick and the Erdos–Rényi model brought the discovery of chaos theory to the general public, Linked tells the story of the true science of the future and of experiments in statistical mechanics on the internet, all vital parts of what would eventually be called the Barabási–Albert model.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
From one of the seminal researchers in the field comes this highly readable explanation of how networks form the foundation of everything from human societies to the living world, physics, and much more. Interconnectedness as a framework for understanding has revolutionized such disparate fields as cancer research and business strategy.
From The Critics
A timely book.
Donald Kennedy
A sweeping look at a new and exciting science.
Science Magazine
Truly fascinating...Linked is a richly connected book.
The work is presented in a highly digestible form...Interesting and informative...(an extremely valuable contribution to the popular-science literature.
Washington Post
A lively look at networks through time.
New Scientist
Enlightening...[An] extremely well-written entertaining account aimed at the intelligent lay audience.
Seattle Times
[Rheingold] paints an excellent picture of a range of transformative technologies.
Washington Monthly
Barabasi's research has some profound implications...An important guidebook.
Time Out New York
Captivating...Linked is a playful, even exuberant romp through an exciting new field.
New York Times
Well intellectual detective journey.
Christian Science Monitor
A pleasure to read.
Detroit Free Press
Linked is the best choice for the layperson,because [Barabasi] minimizes the math and writes elegantly.
Washington Business Forward
Grounded in research...[ Smart Mobs is] well-written and concise and will leave you feeling a little more connected yourself.
Network World
Time spent reading [Linked] will be among the most entertaining, mind-expanding, and thought-provoking hours you'll spend.
Nature Immunology
An engaging voyage into the realm of networks.
Publishers Weekly
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 Barab si. 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, Barab si 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" Barab si 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; Barab si 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 Barab si discusses); those who haven't yet had their fill of this new subgenre should be interested in Barab si's lively and ambitious account. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452284395
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert-László Barabási is a pioneer of real-world network theory and author of the bestseller, Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life. At 32, he was the youngest professor to be named the Emil T. Hofmann Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame and has won numerous awards for his work, including the FEBS Anniversary Prize for Systems Biology and the John von Neumann Medal for outstanding achievements. He currently lives in Boston and is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Network Science at Northeastern University.
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Read an Excerpt

This book has a simple message: think networks. It is about how networks emerge, what they look like, and how they evolve. It aims to develop a web-based view of nature, society, and technology, providing a unified framework to better understand issues ranging from the vulnerability of the Internet to the spread of diseases. Networks are present everywhere. All we need is an eye for them...We will see the challenges doctors face when they attempt to cure a disease by focusing on a single molecule or gene, disregarding the complex interconnected nature of the living matter. We will see that hackers are not alone in attacking networks: we all play Goliath, firing shots at a fragile ecological network that, without further support, could soon replicate our worst nightmares by turning us into an isolated group of species...Linked is meant to be an eye-opening trip that challenges you to walk across disciplines by stepping out of the box of reductionism. It is an invitation to explore link by link the next scientific revolution: the new science of networks.
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Table of Contents

Linked The First Link: Introduction
The Second Link: The Random Universe
The Third Link: Six Degrees of Separation
The Fourth Link: Small Worlds
The Fifth Link: Hubs and Connectors
The Sixth Link: The 80/20 Rule
The Seventh Link: Rich Get Richer
The Eighth Link: Einstein's Legacy
The Ninth Link: Achilles' Heel
The Tenth Link: Viruses and Fads
The Eleventh Link: The Awakening Internet
The Twelfth Link: The Fragmented Web
The Thirteenth Link: The Map of Life
The Fourteenth Link: Network Economy
The Last Link: Web Without a Spider
Afterlink: Hierarchies and Communities
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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
How many times have you met a stranger hundreds or thousands of miles away from your home, just to realize after a five-minute discussion that you have a common acquaintance? You say, "Small world..." and maybe mention John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation, the hit Broadway play or its popular movie version. But how is it that we're so close to perfect strangers? How is it possible to have a path of three to five handshakes to just about any of the six billion inhabitants of our crowded planet?

The answer lies in the fact that society is a very densely connected network in which we are nodes, and links represent our numerous social, professional, or family relationships. Recently, we've learned that the small worlds we experience in society are just about everywhere. Three years ago, my research group showed that most web pages are 19 clicks from each other, and that between any two chemicals in our cells there is a chain of three reactions. We learned that behind the popular "Kevin Bacon" game is Hollywood's tiny world, in which most actors are only three links from each other via movies in which they appeared together. Economists have realized that all Fortune 1000 directors are fewer than five handshakes from each other through the boards on which they jointly serve.

Yet, the most important revelation about networks -- the one that is exciting scientists from all disciplines -- has little to do with small worlds. Rather, it is the realization that the networks appearing in all different segments of nature and society are practically indistinguishable. We now understand that real networks are far from being a bunch of nodes randomly linked to each other. Instead, a few hubs -- nodes with an exceptionally large number of connections -- keep most networks together. A few individuals with an extraordinary ability to make friends keep society together. A few web pages to which everybody links (such as Yahoo! and Google) hold the World Wide Web together. Actors like Rod Steiger, who has links to more than 4,000 performers, are keeping Hollywood together (sorry, Bacon is not one of these hubs). Businessmen like Vernon Jordan hold the network of board directors together (he's just three handshakes from all other Fortune 1000 directors). My ability to write this essay is guaranteed by a few rather active molecules within my cells -- ones that hold the subtle subcellular chemical network together.

In the last three years, we've learned that hubs play a key role in making our world a small one. Just as when your journey between two small airports inevitably takes you through one or two airline hubs, the hubs in social or communication networks are at the center of the many paths connecting the nodes. Hubs guarantee that buzz and ideas will spread or that your message on the Internet gets to its destination in a very short time, and they are responsible for the outbreak of medical epidemics and computer viruses.

Probably the important lesson that we can glean from the new science of networks is that our small society is not that special. It follows simple but rigid laws that govern the growth and evolution of most networks in nature. We are just discovering how pervasive networks are, and how deeply they affect all aspects of our life. We have learned that to make sense of this complex interconnected world around us, we must start thinking networks. (Albert-László Barabási)

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