Connecting every bit of knowledge: The structure of Wikipedia's First Link Network
Journal of Computational Science, 19, 21-30, 2017
Abstract: Apples, porcupines, and the most obscure Bob Dylan song—is every topic a few clicks from Philosophy? Within Wikipedia, the surprising answer is yes: nearly all paths lead to Philosophy. Wikipedia is the largest, most meticulously indexed collection of human knowledge ever amassed. More than information about a topic, Wikipedia is a web of naturally emerging relationships. By following the first link in each article, we algorithmically construct a directed network of all 4.7 million articles: Wikipedia’s First Link Network. Here, we study the English edition of Wikipedia’s First Link Network for insight into how the many articles on inventions, places, people, objects, and events are related and organized. By traversing every path, we measure the accumulation of first links, path lengths, groups of path-connected articles, cycles, and the influence each article exerts in shaping the network. We find scale-free distributions describe path length, accumulation, and influence. Far from dispersed, first links disproportionately accumulate at a few articles—flowing from specific to general and culminating around fundamental notions such as Community, State, and Science. Philosophy directs more paths than any other article by two orders of magnitude. We also observe a gravitation towards topical articles such as Health Care and Fossil Fuel. These findings enrich our view of the connections and structure of Wikipedia’s ever growing store of knowledge.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).