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Linked: The New Science of Networks
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How is the human brain like the AIDS epidemic? Ask physicist Albert-L¨¢szl¨® Barab¨¢si and he'll explain them both in terms of networks of individual nodes connected via complex but understandable relationships. Linked: The New Science of Networks is his bright, accessible guide to the fundamentals underlying neurology, epidemiology, Internet traffic, and many other fields united by complexity.

Barab¨¢si's gift for concrete, nonmathematical explanations and penchant for eccentric humor would make the book thoroughly enjoyable even if the content weren't engaging. But the results of Barab¨¢si's research into the behavior of networks are deeply compelling. Not all networks are created equal, he says, and he shows how even fairly robust systems like the Internet could be crippled by taking out a few super-connected nodes, or hubs. His mathematical descriptions of this behavior are helping doctors, programmers, and security professionals design systems better suited to their needs. Linked presents the next step in complexity theory--from understanding chaos to practical applications. --Rob Lightner

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-L&aacuteszl¨® Barab&aacutesi, the nation's foremost expert in the new science of networks, 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 brought the discovery of chaos theory to the general public, Linked tells the story of the true science of the future.

Customer Reviews:

  • Good Pop. Sci Book
    I first came across Barabasi through a colleague who works in bioinformatics. Having read some of his technical papers, I was unaware that he had a popular book on his work. I was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of style. This is an excellent introduction to networks and the references found in the notes section easily allow further exploration. ...more info
  • Networks everywhere - We are one
    This book's author explores networks that exist in everything from Hollywood actors to cellular proteins and lets us into the private (and unexpectedly exciting and humorous) world of mathematicians and physics professors. The 80/20 rule is described as it applies to monetary success by people, web site success with Internet traffic, frequency of protein use in cellular reactions, and evolutionary success of DNA mutations. Be forewarned, the chapter on network economy will not be calming at this time of recession unprecedented since the 1930's. The book drags a little at times. What I was most surprised to find is that I came away with feeling of being one with the universe; inexorably linked, networked, both a product of and an influencer of this world. Dude, Ooohhhhmmmm..... Ooohhhhmmmm..... Ooohhhhmmmm........more info
  • Networks at work
    In my opinion, Barabasi's book is a decent addition to the existing books on complexity and networks. The author himself is an acknowledged authority of the field of networks. I disagree with some previous critiques that suggest that the book is empty. The book in fact covers a lot of material with just enough technical detail that a layman can understand. The author is able to explain well how various networks form, work, how they fail etc., bringing examples from a wide variety of fields. The text itself is easily readable and provides the reader a good and intuitive understanding of networks without essentially resorting to the language of mathematics which is exactly what Richard Feynman does in his famous book "The character of physical law". If anybody tried to do this, this is not at all an easy task and hence I consider it a nice achievement. Just to mention one particular example, I have not seen such a crystal clear explanation of the strange and somewhat mystic "power law" distribution that shows up in virtually all complex systems and which most books fail to communicate to the public. So if you are looking for an entertaining book which also provides a good and easy introduction into networks at work, you should read it....more info
  • My expectations were too high
    I had received this book from a friend, and my expectations were high, too high.

    The book starts good, but it runs out of gas about halfway, when the author keeps repeating the same theories over and over again, just trying to get enough 'search keywords" in his book to get more hits on book search engines.

    Also, it is too obvious that it is written by a theoretical scientist, not an observational one. Once he has an idea of how his theory 'should' be, he is just adding enough components and factors to his formula to prove that the reality is exactly like his theory. A scientist should sometimes accept that he's not able to explain what he sees. The author was to proud to get to that stage.

    I also agree with some other reviewers that the author does a great job promoting his own accomplishments, 'en passant' slapping in the face of government agencies for not granting him money for his research.

    Overall, the book would have been better at about 100 page instead of 226.

    I stuggled through the book, but it was a big effort, and I did it only because I received the book and promised to discuss it. If my expectations had been lower, I would have appreciated this more.

    I am very interested by the subject, but will have to look for the better books about it....more info

  • Book's Audience: Who should be linked to this book.
    I have focused this review on the audience of the book, since other reviews have quite adequately summarized the material.

    There have been a lot of books recently that have been published on the new science of networks. Network theory and how it applies to many different fields from technology, marketing, biology, social science, terrorism, disease control etc. (Six Degrees by Duncan Watts, Nexus - Mark Buchanan, Smart Mobs - Howard Rheingold, Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell etc..).

    Barabasi's is a welcome addition to the field and has a nice niche, which isn't filled by the other books. As some other reviewers have pointed this book is a popular science book, which means it covers scientific and mathematical theories at a very high level and makes these theories accessible to a wide audience. The niche lies somewhere between Gladwell's Tipping Point and Watt's Six Degrees. It is very well written and draws you in with stories that explore the theories. Some of the other reviewers have complained that Barabasi has done a disservice to the theories that he explains by making them too simplistic. I disagree, I actually found this book to be very rewarding, and a quick read, which is a sign of a well-written book. I have never been a fan of scientific and academic books that pride themselves on being totally incomprehensible. Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize winning physicist, once said that if someone truly understands a subject they should be able to explain it to a general audience without resorting to technical jargon (Feynman's Lectures on Physics Vol 1,2,3 are a perfect example). To be able to explain a complex subject you need to resort analogies, examples and stories. Stories give a framework for the general reader to absorb the complex material. Barabasi has managed to explain the science of networks using all three. I am not sure how this can be seen as a bad thing. This exposes a wider audience to a very interesting subject; this has to be good thing.

    Anybody who loved Gladwell's Tipping Point and was looking for a book that explains some of the theories behind the phenomena will love this book. It's a little bit more technical than Gladwell's book, but it is well written and it will appeal to a wide audience. As popular science books go, this is definitely on par with Ed Regis's Nano and Steven Levy's Artificial Life, but not quite at the level of Gleick's Chaos. If you are looking for a technical book, you should look at Duncan Watt's Six Degrees, or Small Worlds....more info

  • A Great Book
    Barabasi's book is a novel way of looking at large
    networks. With simple and well developed examples, Barabasi
    provides a clear description of laws that govern the formation
    of real networks. It's a book that is useful for both curious readers and researchers....more info
  • An introduction to network sciences and their history
    Linked is a very interesting introduction into the emerging science of networks. The book assumes no previous experience in network sciences so it is easily readable by any one interesting in adding to their personal store of knowledge.

    I particularly enjoyed the author's writing style. He presents antiquated ideas as if they are current fact, then moves on in the next chapter explaining the discoveries that make the previous chapters topic outdated. While definitely not the most efficient way to impart information, it does give the reader a lot of the history behind network sciences.

    In gene research I see network sciences playing an extremely large part. There are only a handful of genes that have been found to individually cause and illness, or change someone behavior; instead there has been a complex interaction between multiple genes that produce the final outcome: blonde hair, blue eyes, and a happy demeanor aren't stored in three genes, it is left to the interaction of possibly hundreds of them to come to that simple conclusion. As the science of network expands and further rules are discovered, I believe this complex interactions will be simplified to some extent.

    We can see the result of network sciences, whether known to the individuals involved in the planning or not, in the recent conflict in Iraq. As Linked sets forth, the removal of a significant number of hubs in a network, be it the Internet, economy, or a social structure will render the network inoperable. This is what the US Armed Forces did with the Iraqi regime: they targeted high ranking officials and key cities both of which are hubs in the network of the regime. Once a significant number of these "hubs" had been removed, the regime crumbled.

    I certainly believe network sciences will change the way not only scientists but all individuals approach their work. Network sciences are applicable in every branch of life where connections between more than one object or person exist. It is only up to those involved in the networks to determine how they wish to apply it to their life.

    Considering myself decently versed in Buddhist philosophy, I do find it very interesting that this book sets forth as scientific fact that which Buddhists have been saying for millennia: everything is connected to everything else......more info

  • Good book about networks, but not as good as Nexus
    Barabasi's Linked is a pretty good intro to the science of networks. It covers much the same ground as Buchanan's Nexus including discussions about random v. nonrandom networks, six degrees of separation related stuff, the AIDS epidemic, etc. Linked also covers a several more topics in greater detail than does Nexus including viruses and fads, and Barabasi presents very good discussions of search engines and the good-old-boy network of board members. Another appealing aspect of the book is that the author and his co-workers were involved in a number of the developments in the science of networks, so we can be sure that the author's explanations are grounded in his own experience.

    If you want to read one book about networks and you're deciding between Nexus and Linked, I would recommend Nexus, however. Nexus' discussions are deeper, and its presentation and writing are better....more info

  • Read this book to find out about pseudoscience
    Popular science sells, no doubt about it. Authors like Barabasi
    know how to exploit the science-thirsty public in the following way: their writing appeals to many people, ranging from pseudo-mathematicians to readers of Foreign Review, by making them believe that they understand some deep new phenomena. Undoubtedly, the average reader will not search the bibliography to discover that many of the papers cited in this book, including Barabasis's papers, are scientifically and mathematically empty. While it is true that some of the models described in this book can LEAD to interesting science and mathematics, the author does not have the skills to do so.
    The author and his collaborators just OBSERVE certain phenomena
    and come up with simple models, which they are unable to analyze
    mathematically. Instead, they perform simulations and experiments. The book impresses the reader by supposedly showing
    connections between modern physics and networks. Read the chapter
    on the Bose Einstein condensation and its role to the Microsoft
    domination in the software market and, if you know something
    about both subjects, you will laugh your heart out at the author's naivete. Why does the author not try to do serious physics but, rather, attempts to deal with a subject like this?
    Because it is a quick path to fame. He merely sells science to non-scientists, in a rude, awckward, non-scientific, impolite,
    self-promoting manner. He basically insults the average reader's

    intellectual ability. The contents of the book can be summarized
    in at most 10 pages. The story is repetitive. To be sure [sic],
    Barabasi uses an eloquent language and hides repetition under the rug. Check some of the papers cited in the book. Check, e.g.,
    the paper of Faloutsos et al., to see that the authors of this--allegedly important article--did not observe that two of the functions they estimated are inverses of one another and hence there was no need to perform the experiment anew. (Either Barabasi did not read the paper or he did not understand the
    math in it... Yet he did cite it.) I mostly like the chapter where the author concludes that in order to attack a network you really need to attack its hubs. Let's get serious now. Do you need Quantum Statistics to predict that? Well, sorry, if a funding agency is willing to fund research that results in such
    conclusions, then, I regret to say, public funds are going down the drain. It's not the first nor the last time this happens.
    But, to be sure [sic], Barabasi is grinning while reading my review: he surely knows that no matter what I say he remains firm in his sand-castle kingdom; he knows that my review is irrelevant and that the readers of his book, the students of his classes, the program directors of his funding agencies, and the general public are closing their ears....more info

  • Excellent book for beginners & engineers alike
    This is an excellent introduction to the science of networks. The layman, the engineer and the beginnig researcher should all enjoy & benefit from reading it....more info
  • Great Book
    For casual readers, this book is a wonderful book to spawn new ideas of networks and networking. Although the latter half is weaker in my perspective, I think this is a great book and has contributed greatly to my understanding of how certain things can be linked together and how certain connections can make the passage of information or the ability to do something more effective. A great book....more info
  • Good way to start
    This well-written, easy book is a good way to start learning about network theory. It discusses the history, some basics, and the broad application (or presence?) of networks in the world around us.
    However, it skims only the surface of what the research is all about, and leaves one thirsty for more, making it a good introduction to further studying (in my case, neural networks).

    The writing style is close to story-telling at times, and this got a bit on my nerves. Apart from that I really cannot say anything bad about this book, I am glad I purchased it....more info
  • A Fabulous Journey through the Theory and Applications of Network Science
    Albert-L¨¢szl¨® Barab¨¢si is a renowned scientist who has brought into the spotlight the science of networks, and at the same time he is a great writer who describes scientific discoveries in a way that make them sound like detective stories.

    In Linked, Albert-L¨¢szl¨® Barab¨¢si gives us an introduction to the fascinating world of networks and complexity. He discusses the scientific models that shaped our understanding of networks, ranging from early random network theory of Erd?s and R¨¦nyi to scale-free networks, a discovery that can be attributed to the author himself. Along with the scientific models, we learn about the attributes of networks, such as small world properties, clustering, power law distribution, preferential attachment, and fitness model.

    Intertwined with the network models and properties, the author discusses the practical applications of these theories. This hugely interdisciplinary field consists of physics, mathematics, biology, computer science, sociology, warfare, business and many other areas. It is eye-opening to see how networks underlie almost every area of our everyday life and how the understanding of networks can give us additional insight into everyday experiences. Some specific examples discussed in the book are the financial crisis of 1997, the September 11 attacks, spreading of AIDS, adoption of product innovations, and cancer research.

    The powerful content of Linked is wonderfully packaged in a narrative consisting of intertwined plots, biographies, and humor which make the book an excellent read. We can feel the author's passion for the topic and are left with an inspiration and a better understanding of our networked reality. ...more info
  • Quite good approach to understand networks.
    Before reading this book, I didn't know that Networks theories are with us since serveral decades. I'm almost finishing it, but I couldn't wait to write something about the book; specially to recommend you to buy it!
    Barabasi work is really great. His redaction skills are as good that people without mathematics or science knowledge can understand and deeply learn Networks theory....more info
  • Get & Read It -You will never view the world the same again
    Barabasi does a great job with his latest work. If you want to get up to speed in understanding what it means to be 'netCentric' then this book is for you. "Linked" really shows that one needs to think differently if one wants to transform their organization. After reading this book, your perspective will be different, and you will be able to capitalize on opportunities once missed - it is absolutely amazing. "Linked" stimulated me to write a whitepaper "Becoming NetCentric" linking communities of interests (COI), architectures and ontologies....
    Thank you very much Albert....more info
  • A very poor book
    How come there is no 0 or negative choice
    for the rating? I did NOT want to choose 1 star,
    but -5 stars.

    Writing a popular science book is not as trivial as one
    might think. Here is a (minimal) set of rules:
    * FIRST and foremost, the author must know the field well
    and must have contributed to it substantially.
    * SECOND, the author must know how to address to the general
    public in an honest, scientific way.
    * THIRD (and most evidently), the book must be written in a
    language that can be understood by the layman, but, not necessarily,
    completely effortlessly.
    * FOURTH, it is important that the author's primary target
    be not that he/she try to make the reader "feel good" only
    (if people can be made to believe that they understand
    something totally outside their field of expertise,
    then they feel good about themselves, but, feeling good
    without learning anything is a waste of time;
    why not go hiking instead?)
    * FIFTH, the author should remain humble about his/her
    achievements, for there is no purpose in boasting about
    them to the general public.

    Unfortunately, the author, A.-L. Barabasi, miserably
    fails in all of them:
    * FIRST, it appears that his contributions (as far as one
    can tell by reading his papers) are minimal.
    * SECOND, the exposition of the subject is not honest,
    because he hides the complexity, substituting it instead
    by a tremendous amount of repetition.
    * THIRD, while it is true that the book can be understood
    by everyone, the fact that it can be done while taking
    a nap (i.e., effortlessly) should be an indication of
    its emptiness.
    * FOURTH, alas, the only outcome of reading this book
    is that the reader feels good. (See multi-star reviews below.)
    * FIFTH, the author never fails to seize the opportunity
    to tell the reader of his accomplishments.

    Incidentally, a book that marvelously complies to the
    above rules is "The Character of Physical Law" by
    Richard Feynman, as well as--at a more technical level--his
    Lectures on Physics.

    Let me conclude the review by giving another network for
    which the degree of a node is a super-duper heavy-tailed
    variable: Consider as nodes the people on this planet,
    living or dead, and link two of them if they have the same
    first name (ignoring variants due to language transformations,
    e.g., John, Johann, Johannes, Ivan, Ioannis, etc. are
    considered the same). This is a truly small world.
    So small, that, for example, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
    is at distance one from Albert Einstein.

    I wonder how come the author failed to notice this example
    and create yet another chapter (or "link").

    He has my permission to use this idea
    in the next edition of his book....more info

  • Great overview for the non-scientist
    This is the first book I've ever read tackling this subject. I've had some science, but physics wasn't my strong suit. This was a great intro, and it made me want to dig deeper. ...more info
  • Dimensions and Implications of Global Interconnectedness
    Frankly, I found this to be an unusually challenging book to read the first time and therefore re-read it before organizing my thoughts for this review. The Five Star rating correctly indicates my high regard for what Barabasi has accomplished as he attempts to help his reader to think in terms of networks in new and different (probably unfamiliar) ways. His book "is about how networks emerge, what they look like, and how they evolve." With meticulous care, he presents "a Web-based view of nature, society, and business, a new framework for understanding issues ranging from democracy on the Web to vulnerability of the Internet and the spread of deadly viruses." Along the way, Barabasi challenges the concept of "The Random Universe," asserting instead that everything is connected to everything else. He devotes most of his book to explaining the significance of that global interconnectedness to business, science, and everyday life.

    As a non-scientist, I am unqualified to comment on much of the material which Barabasi shares. Perhaps he wrote this book for non-scientists such as I who nonetheless struggle to understand what Barabasi characterizes as the "mystery of life" which begins with the intricate web of interactions and thereby integrates the millions of molecules within each organism. "The enigma of the society starts with the convoluted structure of the social network....[For that reason] networks are the prerequisite for describing any complex system, indicating that complexity theory must inevitably stand on the shoulders of network theory. It is tempting to step in the footsteps of some of my predecessors and predict whether and when we will tame complexity." Given all that has been accomplished thus far with regard to disentangling the networks following the discovery of scale-free networks, Barabasi concludes, "Once we stumble across the right vision of complexity, it will take little to bring it to fruition. When [in italics] that will happen is one of the mysteries that keeps many of us going."

    Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Mark Buchanan's Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks, Stanley Kaufman's At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity as well as The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, Steven Strogatz' Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Duncan J. Watts' Six Degrees: the Science of a Connected Age, and Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science.

    I probably should add Ed Regis' The Info Mesa: Science, Business, and the New Alchemy on the Santa Fe Plateau. Regis devotes almost all of his attention to individuals and events who and which, over several decades, had a profound impact on essentially the same subjects as those discussed in the books previously recommended. Also, Regis examines in much greater detail than do the other authors how core concepts about networks and their complexity were introduced to the commercial marketplace by various entrepreneurs....more info

  • How networks cross disciplines and applications
    In Linked, a scientist intrigued by the new science of networks traces the history of connected systems, from the early graph theory by a Swiss mathematician to new biology developments in cancer research based on cellular networks. 'Networking' here goes far beyond the computer world into the worlds of biology and hard science, showing how networks cross disciplines and applications to provide new insights....more info
  • Clear explanation and broad application
    This book is ideal for those who are interested in learning how network theories relate to a wide variety of topics. The author relates his research of network topology to many systems including the internet, terrorist organizations, and the cell's metabolic web. The text is clearly written and easy to read - no background in the area is needed. Thus the ideas in the book can be absorbed in a few hours. This will be time well spent to anyone who may have heard about 'scale-free networks' and 'power laws,' but doesn't have a good grasp of these concepts. The book does not offer much new information beyond the authors published scientific papers (a very impressive string published in the most prestigious scientific journals), but does present these ideas as a cohesive whole with interesting background information....more info
  • Great read
    Nutshell review - This is a fascinating topic and this is a great book covering it. Well written, lucid and worth reading about this interesting "new" field of networks and small worlds. Barabasi is one of the original researchers in this field and provides unique insights and thoughts.

    Another book on the same topic, Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks by Mark Buchanan, covers the same topic and often citing the exact same examples. ...more info
  • evolution of complex network theory
    The book traces the history and evolution of complex network theory covering: random networks, small worlds and the six degrees, scalefree networks in a coherent picture.
    Recommended to anyone interested in network theory and its applications...more info
  • Interesting, but somewhat dissapointing
    Barabasi gives an interesting account of what he and others have done in recent years in the field of networks. However, one thing I would've liked to see more of is the mathematics behind these ideas. Maybe it is because the book is intended for more of a general audience and not a hardcore science/math audience that Barabasi left the majority of mathematics out. He does include some when he discusses how the networks he has been dealing with follow power laws, but I would've liked to see more. I do think that the book has a nice flowing style and is easy to read. If you want an introduction to some of the current ideas about networks given in a non-technical way, then this is a good book for you....more info
  • An amazing read
    This is not a technical book, it is not meant to give a complete overview of current research on networks, and there are very few equations in it.

    YET, it is a beautifully written book. It is a great chance to experience the joy and excitement of people who recently made some discoveries about networks. It has lots of stories, but the author is very careful and capable in making his technical points clear (just, by using words!).

    Finally, I want to say that the author indeed accomplishes his objective: This book makes the reader think about networks. I wish in every field people could write such fun books, summarizing their research and the state of the art.
    -- A PhD student in applied math....more info

  • Inspiring
    Reminds of "The World is Flat". It covers lots of ground really quickly. It was an interesting subject, something I've speculated a lot on my own and it was reinforcing to have a professional discuss lots of patterns (biology, physics, society, information networks) in a short-form context. It inspired me to write some graphics code based on the diagrams in the book and for that it was worth reading....more info
  • Clear explanation and broad application
    This book is ideal for those who are interested in learning how network theories relate to a wide variety of topics. The author relates his research of network topology to many systems including the internet, terrorist organizations, and the cell's metabolic web. The text is clearly written and easy to read - no background in the area is needed. Thus the ideas in the book can be absorbed in a few hours. This will be time well spent to anyone who may have heard about 'scale-free networks' and 'power laws,' but doesn't have a good grasp of these concepts. The book does not offer much new information beyond the authors published scientific papers (a very impressive string published in the most prestigious scientific journals), but does present these ideas as a cohesive whole with interesting background information....more info
  • Applicable to Al Qaeda, SARS, and Getting a Job
    Linked traces the developers and development of network theory from 1929 to 2002. Barabasi uniquely combines a sense of the theorist as a person and a personality with a summary of the theory they developed and the constraints it overturned. He also applies these theories to diverse areas from cellular biology to corporate boardrooms and Asian financial markets.

    It's easy to see how this book is applicable to Al Qaeda and the current SARS epidemic as well as to your own approach to work. For example, in Chapter 4: Small Worlds, Barabasi relates the Strength of Weak Ties theory of Granovetter that in finding a job "our weak social ties are more important than our cherished strong friendships."

    The most suprising thing about the book is that Barabasi takes a rather boring, paradoxically isolated area of dry intellectual inquiry and manages to convey how exciting and applicable network theory is to everyday life....more info