Networks are Coming

In March 2016,  Jie Shan and I published an expository article about Network Science  in Math Horizons, a publication of the Mathematical Association of America. We used Game of Thrones as an example of a complex system that can be modeled as a network: a collection of nodes (characters), where some pairs of characters are related. These relationships are modeled with weighted edges, corresponding to the number of interactions between the characters.

Math Horizons is geared towards undergraduate math majors. We hoped to spark some interest about networks in the minds of college students. We were far more successful than we expected, and at a much grander scale. Adam Epstein wrote a charming article for the Quartz about our work. For a week or two, our network captured the attention of Game of Thrones fans worldwide.

The warm reception inspired us to expand on our analysis. I would characterize our original article as a “proof of concept.” We have revisited our work, and brought in two Macalester students (now graduates) to help out. Ari Weiland did some great coding, which greatly improved our process. Rebecca Gold contributed her super-fan insight into the series as we looked to interpret our results. This site contains a summary of our work, and some reflection on the meaning of the numbers hidden in the network.

 

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