Facebook and Graphs

While learning about graph theory and the different components of graphs of networks, I recalled this fairly recent article: Facebook’s Big Announcement: ‘Graph Search’ by Kashmir (found at http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/01/15/facebooks-big-announcement-graph-search/). Basically, the article is explaining the new tool, ‘Graph Search’, that Facebook is integrating into its site. This is the quote that I find most interesting:

“The tool essentially allows you to put natural queries into a search engine to make it easier to dig information out of the site. The searches will initially be limited to people, places, interests and photos, but posts and status messages will be searchable this way as well at some point in the future. Sensitive to privacy freak-outs around their products, Zuckerberg and crew emphasized the “privacy awareness” of the new search engine.”

I thought this new feature on Facebook is extremely interesting, as it seems to make use of the graph theory we’ve been learning about in Chapter 3. With it, one would be able to search their friends (or neighbor nodes), and view, analyze and recall different edges (links, or relationships/friendships between different people). It’s extremely interesting to me that Facebook, the biggest social network on the internet, is making use of the graph theory and providing a pretty transparent function or aspect of it in order to help organize and dig up information. It even realizes privacy functions and creates blocks between certain nodes, perhaps at set distances, or even customized? Personally, it seems like an awesome function, especially when you have something specific in mind but can’t recall what exactly it was named, or if you want to refine your search.

This article also made me think of a part of chapter 1, in which we skimmed over Google as a search engine. From the Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World by David Easley and Jon Kleinberg:

“Current Web search engines such as Google make extensive use of network structure in
evaluating the quality and relevance of Web pages. For producing search results, these sites
evaluate the prominence of a Web page not simply based on the number of links it receives,
but based on more subtle aspects of its position in the network. For example, a page can be
viewed as more prominent if it receives links from pages that are themselves prominent; this
is a circular kind of notion in which prominence is defined in terms of itself, but we will see
that this circularity can be resolved through careful definitions that are based on a kind of
equilibrium in the link structure.”

It’s incredible to me to see that even networks and the way they work are so apparent in Facebook, and that Facebook is actually utilizing and embracing network graph theory in order to provide a useful tool.

Until next week,

Sarah K.