small-world effect
n. The tendency for individual elements in a large system to be separated from any other element in the system by only a few steps.
What has Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon got in common with worms and the US power grid? All have been linked by a mathematical explanation of the so-called small-world effect, in which apparently unrelated people turn out to have friends in common. This effect could also help our understanding of a wide range of problems, from the way disease spreads to brain seizures.
—Robert Matthews, “Six degrees of separation,” New Scientist, June 06, 1998
The "small world effect" was discovered by American mathematicians studying how objects, people or dots are linked.
—David Derbyshire, “It's a small world….and we can prove it,” The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), June 06, 1998
1996 (earliest)
TerraGlyph VP Joe Gaucher points to Chicago's talent pool — made up of illustrators, writers, music composers, even theater artists, who contribute to the company's style. Gaucher also acknowledges the "small world effect" of new technology, which can bring producers and clients together in real time via the Internet.
—Rita Street, “Out of town but not out of mind,” Daily Variety, March 25, 1996
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