I recently started a wonderful course in Social Network Analysis (available on Coursera). There are many, many good things to be said about this course but I will save those until I have completed it.
For now, I just want to highlight a book that I found through this class. Network Science by Barabási is an introductory text to the field. Network science is the study of network representations of phenomena and their related models. While its foundation is graph theory (a field of mathematics), network science is interdisciplinary and draws methods and concepts from a wide variety of fields, ranging from sociology to physics. Like data science, its applications have grown dramatically in recent years thanks to cheap computing power and data collection & storage. I had actually hoped to title this post “Network Science is Data Science for people who had sex in high school”. While I’m pretty sure that would be a lie, the point is that network science is awesome and has a fascinating future in store for it.
Albert-László Barabási is one of the biggest names in the field. In 1999 he and Réka Albert published a paper on scale-free networks that has proven pivotal in launching the booming interest that network science has seen as an academic field over the last decade. Now, Barabási is working on a textbook aimed at exposing undergrads to this powerful field of study.
It is a work in progress but the first two chapters are currently available for free. So far, the content is at too low of a level to warrant what I expect the price to be (undergrad books are unconscionably expensive), but I am definitely looking forward to read any additional chapters that are posted online. And I am glad that a high-quality, introductory book on this subject will be available soon.