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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Robert O’Toole
Susan Stepney

Mark Buchanan

Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks

The version I read was entitled Small World: uncovering nature's hidden networks.

You've probably heard that no-one is more than six handshakes away fromt the President of the USA, due to what is known as the small-world effect. In Small Worlds Mark Buchanan illustrates this effect with plenty of examples. In an easy to read book he shows how the connections in typical networks makes such an effect pretty much inevitable, and he goes on to look at some of the consequences of this effect - how systems often have a 'tipping point'. If you want to find out about the small world effect, I would say that this book is an excellent place to start.

The book doesn't just deal with social networks, but with many examples of the small world effect. There are chapters on the workings of the brain, the internet, and the spread of disease. Buchanan also looks at the connections of ecological systems and the role of networks in economics - why the rich get richer. Indeed my one complaint about the book is that it tries to relate too much to the small world effect. By being so wide ranging, it seems to move away from a theory with specific predictions towards one which can explain anything (and so may well end up explaining nothing)

Amazon.com info
Paperback 240 pages  
ISBN: 0393324427
Salesrank: 1029957
Weight:0.82 lbs
Published: 2003 W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon price $18.93
Marketplace:New from $8.97:Used from $1.20
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 240 pages  
ISBN: 0393324427
Salesrank: 116332
Weight:0.82 lbs
Published: 2003 W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon price £11.99
Marketplace:New from £9.18:Used from £1.14
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 238 pages  
ISBN: 0393324427
Salesrank: 477559
Weight:0.82 lbs
Published: 2003 W W Norton
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 17.82:Used from CDN$ 0.52
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Product Description

As Chaos explained the science of disorder, Nexus reveals the new science of connection and the odd logic of six degrees of separation.

"If you ever wanted to know how many links connect you and the Pope, or why when the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank sneezes the global economy catches cold, read this book," writes John L. Casti (Santa Fe Institute). This "cogent and engaging" (Nature) work presents the fundamental principles of the emerging field of "small-worlds" theory―the idea that a hidden pattern is the key to how networks interact and exchange information, whether that network is the information highway or the firing of neurons in the brain. Mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists, and social scientists are working to decipher this complex organizational system, for it may yield a blueprint of dynamic interactions within our physical as well as social worlds.

Highlighting groundbreaking research behind network theory, "Mark Buchanan's graceful, lucid, nontechnical and entertaining prose" (Mark Granovetter) documents the mounting support among various disciplines for the small-worlds idea and demonstrates its practical applications to diverse problems―from the volatile global economy or the Human Genome Project to the spread of infectious disease or ecological damage. Nexus is an exciting introduction to the hidden geometry that weaves our lives so inextricably together.