Exploring the graphs that surround us


A blog by Caleb Jones which analyzes and visualizes the world of graphs and networks.

For several years I have been fascinated by the world of graphs and networks and their ability to provide fascinating insights about the world around us. My passion is piqued partly by Warren Weaver's 1948 essay titled "Science and Complexity" [PDF]. In it Weaver anticipates a phase of scientific exploration he calls "the problem of organized complexity" which he describes as:

[problems] dealing simultaneously with a sizable number of factors which are interrelated into an organic whole... These problems--and a wide range of similar problems in the biological, medical, psychological, economic, and political sciences--are just too complicated to yield to the old nineteenth-century techniques which were so dramatically successful on two-, three-, or four-variable problems of simplicity. These new problems, and the future of the world depends on many of them, requires science to make a third great advance, an advance that must be even greater than the nineteenth-century conquest of problems of simplicity or the twentieth-century conquest of problems of disorganized complexity. Science must, over the next 50 years, learn to deal with these problems of organized complexity.

It is my belief that the information revolution, and in particular graph/network theories and technologies today, holds a key piece in unlocking this vision of understanding "the problem of organized complexity".

My hope is that I can, in some small way, contribute to Warren Weaver's vision of science and the human spirit by sharing the insights I gain but also the awe I experience by exploring the world of graphs:

The essence of science is not to be found in its outward appearance, in its physical manifestations; it is to be found in its inner spirit. That austere but exciting technique of inquiry known as the scientific method is what is important about science. This scientific method requires of its practitioners high standards of personal honest, open-mindedness, focused vision, and love of the truth. These are solid virtues, but science has no exclusive lien on them. The poet has these virtues also, and often turns them to higher uses.

If science deals with quantitative problems of a purely logical character, if science has no recognition of or concern for value or purpose, how can modern scientific man achieve a balanced and good life, in which logic is the companion of beauty, and efficiency is the partner of virtue?

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