7, 6, 4, 3.9 or 3.2 degrees of seperation (research)

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a game based on the “six degrees of separation” concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart.

But new research by Eman Yasser Daraghmi and Shyan-Ming Yuan shows that it’s rather 3.9 and it’s all because of… Facebook! Do note, this 3.9 figure is for people in an unusual professions, such as a Chinese-to-Korean translator. On average the degree of separation between Facebook members would be about 3.2.

This is a true “small world experiment”.

  • Facebook cuts the degree of separation to four.
  • Facebook brings rare jobs to light; the rarest job can be found with 4 degrees.
  • It is only four degrees of separation even with ignoring high-degrees nodes.
  • The six degree of separation is the key idea for creating smarter networks.

Abstract of the research:

Nowadays, the glory of social networking sites is unprecedented. Thus, we are so close; the world is even smaller than you thought; a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of others friend; Facebook shrunk the gap between us. The six degrees of separation theory proposed in 1967 stated that we are all just six degrees of separation apart. This paper addresses the research problem of identifying the degree of separation from a different viewpoint by considering not only the degree of separation between two normal-persons or famous-persons, but also between two persons with very rare-special features. We re-evaluate and extend the six degrees of separation theory by using a real social searching Facebook tool “We R So Close”. Experiments were performed on Facebook platform; and the graph database was used to store the collected data. Results add a new phase to the research that cemented the phrase “six degrees of separation”, it reported that the average number of acquaintances separating any two people no matter who they are even with rare-special features, i.e. those who work in rare jobs, is not six but 3.9.

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