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Subject: network science and the US govt
From: Barry Wellman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Barry Wellman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 12 Mar 2007 18:40:37 -0500

TEXT/PLAIN (74 lines)

*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****


  Barry Wellman   S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology   NetLab Director
  Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162
  wellman at
        for fun:

GCN News, March 8/07

Network science is about more than computer systems

By Patience Wait, GCN Staff
Listen to this Story
 Story Tools: Print this | Email this | Purchase a Reprint | Link to this

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Government researchers in fields as diverse as
biotechnology, ecosystems and behavioral science are looking for common
patterns in the systems they study, to see if they can be applied to the
development of robust complex networks, whether for computer systems or
organizational structures.

A panel convened at the Association of the United States Army winter
symposium yesterday discussed some of the parallels between biological
systems, such as the circulatory, respiratory and central nervous systems
in fish, the behaviors of proteins in bacteria and the organization of an
airline’s flight routes, to show how their behaviors may be mirrored in
the performance of networks.

Understanding biological, molecular and economic networks is necessary to
design large, complex networks whose behaviors can be predicted in
advance, said Jagadeesh Pamulapati, deputy director for laboratory
management and assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and

The search centers on finding the answer to, “What are the underlying
rules in common?” he said. Can a common language be used to describe all
these systems? Is there a mathematical formula to describe their behaviors
and relationships?

Jaques Reifman, chief scientist for advanced technology and telemedicine
in the Army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command, said that modeling
protein interactions inside e. coli and plague bacteria is a form of
comparing networks to understand “why in two related viruses, sharing more
than 50 percent of proteins, one’s more virulent, more deadly, than the

Reifman offered the theory that proteins can be judged for “essentiality”
based on how many connections they make with other proteins, and these hub
proteins are more likely to be centrally located within the network of

“I study fish because it’s the data we can get,” said Lt. Col. John
Graham, assistant professor for behavior sciences and leadership at West
Point. Humans are resistant to providing access to their e-mail traffic,
for instance, to allow the generation of very large datasets for study.
But the understanding of networks is critical, he said, because “the bad
guys are getting good at network science.”

Graham took some of the conclusions from the study of biological networks
and demonstrated how they can be applied to social networks, including
prospective terrorist networks. The most effective attacks will target
“boundary spanners,” the people who bridge gaps in communications, he

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