Evidence for Power Laws – “…I work scientifically!”

Scant Evidence of Power Laws Found in Real-World Networks by Erica Klarreich.

From the post:

A paper posted online last month has reignited a debate about one of the oldest, most startling claims in the modern era of network science: the proposition that most complex networks in the real world — from the World Wide Web to interacting proteins in a cell — are “scale-free.” Roughly speaking, that means that a few of their nodes should have many more connections than others, following a mathematical formula called a power law, so that there’s no one scale that characterizes the network.

Purely random networks do not obey power laws, so when the early proponents of the scale-free paradigm started seeing power laws in real-world networks in the late 1990s, they viewed them as evidence of a universal organizing principle underlying the formation of these diverse networks. The architecture of scale-freeness, researchers argued, could provide insight into fundamental questions such as how likely a virus is to cause an epidemic, or how easily hackers can disable a network.

An informative and highly entertaining read that reminds me of an exchange between in The Never Ending Story between Atreyu and Engywook.

Engywook’s “scientific specie-ality” is the Southern Oracle. From the transcript:

Atreyu: Have you ever been to the Southern Oracle?

Engywook: Eh… what do YOU think? I work scientifically!

In the context of the movie, Engywook’s answer is deeply ambiguous.

Where do you land on the power law question?

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