# Do you believe in the 6 degrees of seperation theory?

By arkansos

@arkansos (546)

India

January 1, 2009 5:36am CST

For those uninformed, 6 degrees of seperation theory states that any two average adults with decent social lives living anywhere across the world are connect to each other within less than 6 degrees of seperation. On the outside it may seem like an absurd theory but a little maths helps prove its validity
Suppose you know 60 unique people and each of these people know 60 unique people(other than you). So now you have 3600 people in your first level acquaintance..
Each of these will know atleast 60 unique people. That makes the figure around 216000. By the 6th degree, you'll have 60^6 people in your list. or 46656000000 people which is greater than the world population. Most people have known more than 60 adults by the time they grow up. the number of unique people easily exceeds 60...
So do you beleive it?

1 response

@grandpa_lash (5230)

• Australia

1 Jan 09

I had a girlfriend once who used to say, "There are only six people in the world, and you and I know 5 of them", lol, a reflection of the fact that we were both fairly high profile characters in our chosen frog ponds.
I suspect it could almost be true, but of course there's no real way of working it out. Even if you made a list of 60 people you know, and even if they agreed to take part and convince 60 of their friends to take part (and remember, there would likely be a fair bit of overlap), it would be a full-time job for a battalion of clerks by the time you got down to the 4th and 5th levels, let alone the 6th.
And I brought up a point there by accident: if you contacted your 60 friends and they listed their own 60, how many times would you expect to appear in those lists, or how many times would some of them appear in those lists? You can't validly work it out as 60 to the 6th power because of the overlapping lists.
Lash

1 person likes this

@arkansos (546)

• India

1 Jan 09

ofcourse there is no way of absolutely proving this theory. Even if I managed to make a list of people for me and another person, I'd have to prove it for evry pair in the world. Assuming the world has just 1000000 people(the world has thousand times the number), there'd be C(1000000,2) pairs in the world. i.e (1000000*999999*999998*999997*999996*....5*4*3) pairs.and these pairs will constantly change because people would die. Assuming people die and are born at a rate of 1 per 3 seconds. To represent data accuaretly'd have to complete the survery in less than 18 years and 3 seconds from starting as in 18 year and 3 seconds, these people would reach 18 and there'd be a new pair and I'd have to do the survey for them again. Which'd mean I'd have to examine more than 100000^50 people in less than 18 years or add a new pair every 3 seconds. completing it in 18 years is impossible. Cuz each pair would take atleast 3 years...Even if I have 1000 teams under me, the task would take 30 years to check 1000000^50 teams. By then the population would have changed completely and I'd have to start over every 18 years and 333333.3 seconds or 5555 minutes.
these simple calculations show that it is imposssible to check the validity mathematically
But then its not about mathematical validity. Its just about whether you'd like to beleive it?