IOP Institute of Physics

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Why do social networks perform so well?

25 January 2013

Following his lecture at the University of Kent on 22 January 2013, Professor Paddy Farrell, former professor of communications at Manchester and Lancaster Universities Centre received a memento of the occasion from Professor J. Wang, professor of communications at the University of Kent.

Professor Paddy Farrell and Professor J. Wang

Prof. Farrell explained that there are now more mobile phones (cell phones, smart phones, iPads, etc) in the world than fixed phones; the plain old telephone system (POTS) is being replaced by the still rapidly growing mobile-radio system (MOBS).

Since users can now transmit and receive not just audio, but also video and data signals, which in turn has led to the creation of a large number of social networks (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc ).

Amazingly this huge complex system performs very well most of the time. One crucial reason is that the information transmitted and stored in the system is protected against mistakes by powerful error-correcting codes.

The talk described how these codes work, and highlighted their error-correcting power with a practical demonstration.

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