Breakthrough in Kevin Bacon Research

Posted 13 Sep 2005 at 20:09 UTC by steve Share This

A University of Massachusetts press release claims researchers may have developed a breakthrough algorithm for searching decentralized networks such as collaboration graphs. Their algorithm, called Expected-Value Navigation (EVN) could make life easier for developers working with robot swarms by providing the most efficient message passing route from one robot to another within the swarm. EVN may also have important implications for signal paths within neural networks. On the downside, it could make life easier for the authors of virus and worm writers (and harder for MS Windows users). Still not sure what a collaboration graph is? Everyone is probably familiar with at least one well known one: the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, which is based on the ideas of the Erdős Number project and the Six Degrees of Separation. In fact some people get a little obsessed with such ideas. An article (PDF format) published by the Air Force Research Lab connects these ideas with classical physics and modern Open Source software development methods. A few more details about the new algorithm are available in an Engineering Online article but for the math itself, take a look at the actual research paper, "Decentralized Search in Networks Using Homophily and Degree Disparity" (PDF format).

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