Advanced Networks Colloquium: Walter Willinger, "Network Science and the Internet"
Friday, October 21, 2011
1146 A.V. Williams Building
301 405 6579
Advanced Networks Colloquium
Network Science and the Internet: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
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"Network Science" (also called the "Science of Complex Networks") is a new and very active area of scientific research inspired largely by the empirical study of real-world technological, social, and biological networks. Among the most celebrated achievements of this new field of science has been the discovery that the connectivity structure of many real-world networks is highly heterogeneousmost nodes have only a handful of connections, but there are a few nodes that have hundreds or thousands of neighbors. This finding has led to the development of appealingly simple new network models capable of making powerful predictions with minimal assumptions for systems such as the Internet, the power grid, and various biological and social networks. Unfortunately (or, fortunately?), many of these highly publicized predictions and claims quickly collapse when scrutinized with real data or examined by domain experts. Using the Internet as a prime example of a technological network, I will carefully trace and document the main sources of errors regarding the application of the current Network Science to real-world networks and show that many of the most popular complex network concepts are severely lacking in rigor. Fortunately, the Internet application also suggests an alternative approach, and I will illustrate the sort of paradigm shifts needed to develop a science of networks that is capable of accurately accounting for the highly engineered or highly evolved nature of many real-world networks.
Walter Willinger studied Mathematics at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the School of ORIE, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. For the last 15 years, he has worked at AT&T Labs - Research, the research arm of AT&T. Before that, he was a Member of Technical Staff at Bellcore Applied Research (1986-1996), the research consortium that was jointly own by the 7 Baby Bells. He is a Fellow of ACM (2005), IEEE (2005), AT&T (2007), and SIAM (2009), and for his work on the self-similar (fractal) nature of Internet traffic, he received the 1996 IEEE W.R.G. Baker Prize Award from the IEEE Board of Directors, the 1994 W.R. Bennett Prize Paper Award from the IEEE Communications Society, and the 2006 Test of Time Paper Award from ACM SIGCOMM.