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Is Network Science physics?

  1. Jul 30, 2012 #1
    I just read an interesting commentary in Nature by Albert Lazslo Barabasi called "The Network Takeover." It is about the emerging field of network science (a field he helped create). Here's is the full article:

    http://www.barabasilab.com/pubs/CCNR-ALB_Publications/201112-22_NatPhys-takeover/201112-22_NatPhys-takeover.pdf [Broken]

    The question is raised:
    This question is somewhat personal to me, because I will be attending Northeastern University for grad school (which is where Barabasi works), and I am rather interested in network science research. However, it's often a challenge trying to explain to my physics colleagues how network science even counts as physics. In a way, it isn't physics, at least not as physics has been traditionally defined. However, it really isn't in anybody else's traditional wheelhouse either. Maybe applied mathematics?

    Regardless, one cannot doubt that physicists have played a big part in developing the field of network science as well as its predecessors in complexity research (chaos theory and self-organizing systems were also developed in part by physicists). So, I think Barabasi makes a strong point when he answers his question like this:
    Several physics departments perform complex network research. Complex networks had three days of sessions at the APS March meeting. The covery story of Physics Today a few months ago was on network theory. Despite all of this, many people insist that this field is not physics. How do you guys respond? Obviously, Barabasi is making a bit of a sales pitch here about his field, but does he have a point? Should physicists embrace this new field? Or should it be shipped off to the applied mathematicians?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
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