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July 03, 2009

Network textbooks are here!

Over the past 4 years, as I've taught a course on social and information networks, I've had to rely on a mix of research and review articles for the reading. It's true that some books had appeared that covered the developments of the late 1990s to the present, especially from the physicist camp, but they either didn't quite start from the beginning (that is, they were aimed toward the advanced graduate student), and typically they were very much focused on "scale-free" networks.

Just last year, I started using Matt Jackson's text, "Social and Economic Networks" in the PhD-level networks course I teach. As the title suggests, it is heavily econ flavored, which puts a nice emphasis on game theoretic models of network formation, and games on networks. But it also includes excellent treatments of other topics, such as diffusion and search. And the problems at the end of the chapters have had both me and the students scratching our heads and more importantly tinkering in Mathematica.

Two news books are about to appear.

The one I've been reading of late is by Kleinberg and Easley on "Networks and Strategic Behavior", and it is 1/2 about networks, 1/2 about game theory, info markets, and other neat topics. Aimed at undergraduates, it explains the subject matter so clearly, so eloquently, so seductively, that it brings tears to one's eyes (tears of joy, but also of envy that someone is able to write like this). It should be available by this fall.

Mark Newman's long awaited textbook is also supposed to hit the shelves sometime soon. I don't know when exactly (some people don't like being asked how their book is coming along), but he will be using it or a preprint version when he teaches CSCS 535 again this fall. It will likely be aimed at physics graduate students or advanced physics undergraduates (or students with a similarly strong mathematical background). I expect it will become the definitive volume on the topic.

Posted by ladamic at July 3, 2009 12:52 PM

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