Fewer Degrees Of Separation With Facebook |

Written by Janet Swift |

Saturday, 06 February 2016 |

Six degrees of separation is the, already well established, idea that any individual is connected to any other via six network nodes. New research has discovered that the average between Facebook users is just three and a half. Results of a research study by Sergey Edunov, Carlos Diuk, Ismail Onur Filiz, Smriti Bhagat and Moira Burke was posted on the Facebook blog on Friends Day, February 4th, Facebook's 12th birthday. The Friends Day post states:
More details are given by the researchers in the post Three and a half degrees of separation which concludes that:
The initial study of the degree of connectedness of the Facebook graph was done in 2011 by researchers at Cornell, the Università degli Studi di Milano, and Facebook, The computed the average path length, the number of arc in a path, across the 721 million people then using the site, corresponding to 69 billion friendship links, and found that it was 4.74, corresponding to 3.74 intermediaries or "degrees of separation". Recrunching the Facebook graph in 2016 the corresponding distance 4.57, corresponding to 3.57 intermediaries or "degrees of separation." Within the US, people are connected to each other by an average of 3.46 degrees and majority of the people on Facebook have averages between 2.9 and 4.2 degrees of separation as shown in this chart. The post aslo outlines how task of calculating degrees of separation in a network with hundreds of billions of edges and how it was accomplished.
The researchers used existing statistical techniques, in particular the Flajolet-Martin algorithm, which they put into layman's terms:
Remarking that the algorithm maps well to the problem, the researchers explain that they used it to find the biggest number of zeroes among all friends' hashes. Then using a bitwise OR operation on the hash, this process can be repeated recursively to estimate the number of unique friends-of-friends, and then friends-of-friends-of-friends. This computation was done on the entire Facebook friendship graph using the open source Apache Giraph package. This may all be true and Facebook makes us better connected, but it leaves the question of the quality of the connections open. Are Facebook friends anything like real friends? ## More InformationThree and a half degrees of separation ## Related ArticlesSix Degrees Of Separation Is New
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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 March 2018 ) |