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August 29, 2005

Small worlds, Six degrees, and The Simpsons

by Stan Wasserman

No, the three things are not really related except as they pertain to networks.

1) Stanley Milgram did not coin the phrase "Six Degrees of Separation" in his original and classic paper on Small Worlds. The phrase does not appear in his 1967 Psychology Today article. It comes from John Guare's play Six Degrees of Separation (1990) which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, and an Olivier Best Play Award.

2) I am still bemoaning the fact that no one knows what "degree" means. Regardless of what Stowe tells me, it is still incorrect.

3) I am teaching a Network Analysis Workshop at the Goizueta Business School, at Emory University in Atlanta (wonderful place, and a real hotbed of network research). One of my students this week, Eric Overby, told me of a great dialogue from The Simpsons, which, in his words:

The first four statements from Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Bart are a nice example of a strongly-connected, but not recursively connected, 2-clique. After the first exchanges, the network relationships break down (because Homer gets confused), and hilarity ensues.

Read it yourself and enjoy:

Homer: Marge? Since I'm not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?
Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.
Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won't be used on any meat product.
Bart: You dunkin' your sausages in that syrup homeboy?
Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.
Marge: Tell him yourself, you're ignoring Lisa, not Bart.
Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.
Marge: Homer, you're not not-talking to me and secondly I heard what you said.
Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case.
Bart: Uhhh, dad, Lisa's the one you're not talking to.
Homer: Bart, go to your room.

August 29, 2005 03:11 PM | TrackBack