Who Do You Know? The Theory Behind Social Networking

Who Do You Know? The Theory Behind Social Networking


Dr. F. Jordan Srour
Assistant Professor
School of Business – Beirut Campus
Lebanese American University

Dr. George Turkiyyah
Professor, Chairperson
Dept. of Computer Science
The American University of Beirut

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This video lesson will introduce students to algorithmic thinking through the use of a popular field in graph theory—social networking. Specifically, by acting as nodes in a graph (i.e. people in a social network), the students will experientially gain an understanding of graph theory terminology and distance in a graph (i.e. number of introductions required to meet a target person). Once the idea of distance in a graph has been built, the students will discover Dijkstra's Algorithm. The lesson should take approximately 90 minutes and can be comfortably partitioned across two class sessions if necessary (see the note in the accompanying Teacher Guide). There are no special supplies needed for this class and all necessary hand-outs can be downloaded from this website.

Instructor Biography

Dr. Srour holds a PhD in Logistics Management from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. With a background in both Mathematics (BA, Carleton College, 2000) and Transportation (MSE, UT Austin, 2001), her research focuses on network models for operational problems within the freight transportation sector.  Her research has been published in recognized journals including Transportation Research, Part C and Computers & Operations Research.

Dr. Turkiyyah obtained his MS and PhD from Carnegie Mellon University and his BE from the American University of Beirut.  His research interests are in high-performance computing, geometric modeling, real-time physically-based simulation, numerical optimization, and large-scale Web-enabled data repositories. Prof Turkiyyah holds patents on geometric representation technologies, co-founded a software startup, and published a number of widely-used software systems that have won a number of awards.  He is a member of ACM and SIAM.

For Teachers

Additional Online Resources

Dijkstra’s Algorithm
This side provides a Java applet detailing the steps of Dijkstra’s Algorithm.

Commoncraft: Social Networking
This sight, sponsored by Commoncraft, presents a brief video summarizing the concept of Social Networking.

Social Network Visualization
This is the site of the Vizster project at Stanford University, which is dedicated to Social Network Visualization.

Visual Complexity
This website, Visual Complexity, presents a rich library of graphically compelling networks.

The Erdös Number Project
Hosted by Oakland University, this is the website for the Erdös Number Project, which studies research collaboration among mathematicians.

The Oracle of Bacon
This site, The Oracle of Bacon, finds the shortest path between actors and actresses according to the films they’ve worked on together