This class is all about how and why certain things link together. That is the whole idea of networks. As we learned about this past week, PageRank is an algorithm used to establish how “important” a web page or a link is based on the number of links or citations it other pages have to it. The idea of PageRank, though complicated, is fairly intuitive. PageRank, after being in this class for half of a semester really illustrates the strength of networks in my opinion.
A big issue today is the environment, and a part of that is ecosystems and how all different species and life forms are interconnected. Obviously, it is important to understand how these connections work and the strength of any given connection. For instance, if one species goes extinct, or if something were to happen to a species’ natural habitat, this does not only affect the given species, but every other subsequent one that relies on or utilizes the species in question in any way.
An article, published by the New York Times in 2009, cites the research of Stefano Allesina and Mercedes Pascual in their attempt to study the networks of food webs. Instead of using previously established extinction models, Allesina and Pascual adopted the PageRank algorithm and found that it was more effective at “identifying which species’ extinction would cause the greatest number of other species in the food web also to go extinct.” This is a huge step in not only ecosystem and species extinction studies but also in the world. Since network theory is everywhere, the fact that the PageRank algorithm can be applied to the study of species’ interactions means that there may be no limit to what the PageRank model can be used for with the right alterations.