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Nineteen degrees of Web separation

You are never more than 19 clicks away

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Any Web site is just 19 clicks away from any other Web site. And typing in the URL does not count! Researchers in the US have found that the Net behaves like a 'small world network', the same rules that govern the 'How many steps to Kevin Bacon' game.

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, created a robot program to investigate the links between the sites. The program checks outgoing links and follows them, and found that between any two randomly chosen points, the shortest route is never more than 19 links.

The findings are especially useful to designers of search engines. As the Web grows, the reliability of these engines shrinks. And while applying this research is still probably beyond our AI technology, it could provide a useful starting point for investigations.

"The problem is the amount of information available if you don't have the technology to understand it all," commented Oren Etzioni, researcher at Go2Net in the New Scientist. He is working on alternate methods, such as adaptive web site that will redesign themselves to make popular or relevant documents accessible to search engines. ®

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