Researchers Draw Romantic Insights From Maps of Facebook Networks - NYTimes.com
So says a new research paper written by Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell University, and Lars Backstrom, a senior engineer at Facebook. The paper, posted online on Sunday, will be presented at a conference on social computing in February.
The pair used a hefty data set from Facebook as their lab: 1.3 million Facebook users, selected randomly from among all users who are at least 20 years old, with from 50 to 2,000 friends, who list a spouse or relationship partner in their profile. That makes for a lot of social connections to analyze, roughly 379 million nodes and 8.6 billion links. The data was used anonymously.
Their key finding was that the total number of mutual friends two people share — embeddedness, in social networking terms — is actually a fairly weak indicator of romantic relationships. Far better, they found, was a network measure that they call dispersion.
“A spouse or romantic partner is a bridge between a person’s different social worlds,” Mr. Kleinberg explained in an interview on Sunday.