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Friday, September 10, 1999 Published at 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK


The WWW is very big but not very wide

The WWW: 800 million pages and growing but nothing is very far away

By BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse

The World Wide Web is undoubtedly big, but it is not very wide say scientists.

There may be more than 800 million documents on the WWW, a figure that is growing rapidly, but a new analysis shows that they are not far apart.

Any two random pages are, on average, just 19 mouse clicks away from each other.

The study was conducted by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi of the University of Notre Dame and is published in the journal Nature.

He developed a software 'robot' that traversed the WWW and collected all the links from a Web page and followed them to their destinations.

The process was repeated for many Web pages, 325,729 to be precise, and a picture of the interconnectivity of the WWW emerged.

A statistical analysis of the data shows that the distance between two random pages will increase by only a few clicks, even if the Web continues to boom in the way it is now.

This research information may prove useful to search engine companies who could develop more efficient ways to search the Web. A recent study showed that even the best search engines look at only about 16% of the Web.

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