Similar yet Different: the Structure of Social Networks of Characters in Seinfeld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory

When: Wednesday, 29 January 2020, 12 pm
Where: DH Active Learning Space, Food Science Building 4.58

Presentations last ~30mins, followed by a short discussion

Prof Ana Bazzan, (UFRGS Porto Alegre, Brazil)


The theory of complex systems is responsible for a boom in using network science (another name for our long-time acquaintance, graph theory). Indeed the theory of network science in general and social networks in particular has found surprising applications with amazing results. One such domain is the analysis of fictional characters network. A recent survey by Labatut and Bost (to appear, ACM Comp. Surveys) has analyzed more than 200 papers — including two of our group — dealing with novels, plays, movies, and TV series, focusing on extraction of the network, its analysis, and the role of network science there. Our works in this survey aim at (i) developing new mathematical frameworks to deal with temporal aspects in two fictions (Alice in Wonderland and La Chanson de Roland), and (ii) assessing the truth of some well-known facts about the sitcom Friends, obviously from the social network perspective. Two other, ongoing and unpublished, works deal with comparison of sitcoms: Friends and The Big Bang Theory, and these two plus Seinfeld and How I met your Mother, since all of them are about a bunch of friends living in big cities, dealing with the odds in their careers, love life, and friendship. How similar are, e.g., Friends and How I Met Your Mother (a much discussed topic in Internet forums)? Come and find the answer.

About the Speaker

Ana Bazzan received her PhD in 1997 from the University of Karlsruhe (now KIT), Germany. She is a full professor at UFRGS in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her activities include: fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; current or past associate editor of journals (Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, Advances in Complex Systems, among others); member of the IFAAMAS board. Her main research interests are: multiagent systems, machine learning, complex systems, agent-based simulation.

Prof. Bazzan is in Cork for the Leverhulme Trust funded project Women, Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in early medieval narratives based in the Department of Digital Humanities.

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