'Six degrees of separation' is a clich-, as is 'it's a small world', both clich-s of the language and clich-s of everyone's experience. We all live in tightly bonded social networks, yet linked to vast numbers of people more closely than we sometimes think. Only in recent years have scientists begun to apply insights from the theoretical study of networks to understand forms as superficially different as social networks and electrical networks, computer networks and economic networks, and to show how common principles underlie them all. Duncan Watts explores the science of networks and its implications, ranging from the Dutch tulipmania of the 17th century to the success of Harry Potter, from the impact of September 11 on Manhattan to the brain of the sea-slug, from the processes that lead to stockmarket crashes to the structure of the world wide web.
An Australian, born in Canada, Duncan Watts currently teaches at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of Small Worlds- The Dynamics of Networks- Between Order and Randomness (Princeton University Press; 1999).