Microsoft study disproves six degrees of separation

 

An analysis of Microsoft’s instant messaging system has concluded that there aren’t six degrees of separation between everyone -- the number is 6.6.

A team of researchers analysed 30 billion messages sent on the company’s instant messenger client to see if the theory that everyone can be linked to everyone else by six degrees of separation was accurate.

"To me, it was pretty shocking. What we're seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity," Eric Horvitz, a Microsoft researcher who conducted the study with colleague Jure Leskovec, told the Washington Post.

"People have had this suspicion that we are really close. But we are showing on a very large scale that this idea goes beyond folklore."

The six degrees of separation argument, popularised by American psychologist Stanley Milgram, posits that everyone is one degree removed from people they know, two degrees from people their friends know and no more than six degrees away from everyone on the planet.

The idea has been around for nearly 100 years but has never been proven due to the difficulties of testing the hypothesis.

The Microsoft team came up with using data from their Messenger client. The researchers took an IM message between two unnamed individuals as a link and then examined how to connect 180 billion different pairs of users in the database

They found the actual number of links was 6.6, although 78 per cent of the world’s population can be linked in seven steps or less. However some took over twenty links to find a connection.

Copyright ©v3.co.uk


Microsoft study disproves six degrees of separation
 
 
 
Top Stories
Getting bang for your buck in the explosives factory
As a manufacturing industry CIO, Incitec Pivot’s Martin Janssen doesn’t have much money to spend on IT. But to him, that’s all part of the fun.
 
AGL restructure sees CIO depart
Owen Coppage to leave after ten years.
 
Inside Telstra's multi-faceted cloud strategy
An overview of its own cloud and deals with Cisco, VMware, IBM and NextDC.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Small business win in a budget with 'fair' savings: Abbott
Apr 17, 2015
Tony Abbott has reaffirmed that the government’s aim is “always to get taxes ...
Xero now includes an inventory function built-in
Mar 26, 2015
Xero has added inventory and other major new features to the latest release of its cloud ...
Apple reveals its new MacBook
Mar 13, 2015
Replacing the MacBook Air as Apple's thinnest laptop, the new MacBook comes packed with features.
Xero has released a new version of its app for the iPad
Mar 6, 2015
iPad-wielding Xero users can now take advantage of a new version of the iOS app for the cloud ...
Microsoft is offering Azure for Disaster Recovery to Australian SMBs
Feb 10, 2015
If you haven't talked to your IT provider about disaster recovery, it might be worth discussing ...
Latest Comments
Polls
Do you support the Government's data retention scheme?

   |   View results
Yes
  11%
 
No
  89%
TOTAL VOTES: 2208

Vote