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IntroductionComputerised systems that support social networking such as Facebook and LinkedIn typically rely on underlying connectivity in the form of a FriendOfAFriend (FOAF) relation. This represents a relationship between two object supported by a link. Figure 1 illustrates the FOAF relation.Figure 1. Example of FOAF relations. Within a social network this relation is the basic building block of a network of friends. By focusing only on friendships (the relation) between friends (objects) it is possible to simplify the potentially complex interrelated world of many objects into one that only expresses a single type of relation that is unidirectional. Although this is a simplified view on how social networks build connectivity between objects, it does allow the relation between objects to be unified and weighted such that each relation becomes a link between two objectswith a ‘strength of association’. This network is represented in Figure 2. Top left is the generalised case with three instances of that case below. The diagram on the right represents an interconnected example of a number of instances formedinto a unidirectional graph. Figure 2. Series of relations and resultant network of friends. Design BriefFigure 2 represents a social network of 10 nodes (A-J). Each node is connected toa variable number of its neighbours via links (1-13). Each link between a pair of nodes is given a simple integer weighting. High weightings equate to a high ‘strength of association’ and thus a strong link between nodes. As links are two-way channels information can travel in either direction between two nodes. When communication occurs between two nodes, the ‘strength of association’ for a particular network path is the cumulative weights of all the links for one route between two nodes. For example, one path between Abdul Fay is A,C,G,Fwith a cumulative weighting of 56. Another might be A,C,D,E,F with a cumulativeweighting of 91. The most direct route is A,C,F with a cumulative weighting of 16,but this may not be the most reliable communication route since the strength of association between Clare and Fay is only 2 so very weak. Another variable feature of the graph in Figure 2 is the number of links a node supports. Node RelationObject ObjectBobClareBrotherBobDaveClareEarlFayGillAbdula710532803014Hugh75JaneIris320personfriendlinkweightingBobClare180BobDave27EarlDave310412
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