North­eastern Uni­ver­sity physi­cist Albert-​​László Barabási has once again been rec­og­nized for his out­standing con­tri­bu­tions to sci­ence. Joining a long list of award win­ners cred­ited with his­toric con­tri­bu­tions such as cre­ating the World Wide Web, Pro­fessor Barabási is one of two sci­en­tists cel­e­brated this year by the NEC C&C (Com­puters & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions) Foun­da­tion of Japan for con­tri­bu­tions to R&D activ­i­ties and pio­neering works related to the inte­gra­tion of com­puters and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies and the social impact of devel­op­ments in these fields.

Pro­fessor Barabási’s award has been given to him in recog­ni­tion of stim­u­lating inno­v­a­tive research on net­works and dis­cov­ering that the scale-​​free prop­erty is a common fea­ture of var­ious real-​​world com­plex net­works. His research in this area rep­re­sents a par­a­digm change in our under­standing of com­plex systems.

The com­mittee eval­u­ated that Pro­fessor Barabási’s idea for scale-​​free net­works were not con­fined to a spe­cific tech­nology area but led to an under­standing of a wide variety of phe­nomena in the real world,” said Dr. Hiroshi Gokan, exec­u­tive director NEC C&C Foun­da­tion. “We are looking for­ward to the fur­ther devel­op­ment and expan­sion of his research activities.”

The 2008 C&C prize cer­e­mony, including a cer­tifi­cate of merit, a plaque, and a cash award of 10 mil­lion yen, took place in Tokyo this month. Pre­vious recip­i­ents of the C&C prize include such pio­neers of the Internet and the World Wide Web as Paul Baran, Vinton G. Cerf, Tim Berners-​​Lee, and Gordon E. Moore.

Among his achieve­ments in the area of net­works, the award com­mittee cited Pro­fessor Barabási’s and his team of researchers’ 1999 dis­covery stating that the World Wide Web is not a ran­domly con­nected net­work but a scale-​​free net­work. By dis­cov­ering two generic mech­a­nisms, the first being that net­works expand con­tin­u­ously with the addi­tion of new nodes and the second that new nodes pref­er­en­tially link to already well-​​connected nodes, Barabási the­o­ret­i­cally derived the power-​​law dis­tri­b­u­tion for the number of links char­ac­ter­izing the nodes in the World Wide Web.

Under­standing com­plex net­works is fun­da­mental to humanity’s quest to build new tech­nolo­gies, cure dis­eases, and improve our society, and I am delighted that the NEC C&C foun­da­tion has con­sid­ered this line of research worthy of their atten­tion” said Barabási, dis­tin­guished pro­fessor of physics and director of the Center for Com­plex Net­work Research at North­eastern. “The NEC C&C Foun­da­tion has rec­og­nized dozens of trail­blazers who have made a founda­mental impact on our society through research, and I am hon­ored to be in a group of such dis­tin­guished minds.”

The com­mittee also noted that the most pro­nounced insight into net­works by Pro­fessor Barabási is that the scale-​​free fea­ture is not lim­ited to the Web, but is a generic fea­ture of a variety of net­works, including social net­works, trans­mis­sion maps for infec­tious dis­eases, the cita­tion pat­terns of sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tions, meta­bolic net­works with metabo­lites linked by chem­ical reac­tions in dif­ferent living organ­isms, and flight maps con­necting air­ports. Pro­fessor Barabási’s 2002 book enti­tled “Linked: The New Sci­ence of Net­works” sum­ma­rizes his research focus and findings.

For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Renata Nyul at 617–373-7424 or at r.​nyul@​neu.​edu.

To learn more about the NEC C&C Foun­da­tion and the NEC Cor­po­ra­tion, please visit http://​www​.candc​.or​.jp/ and http://​www​.nec​.com.