To demon­strate their tech­nique, Yang-​​Yu Liu of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston and his col­leagues looked at the entire human meta­bolic net­work and found that con­cen­tra­tions of about 10 per­cent of the body’s 2,763 metabo­lites could be used to deter­mine the levels of all the rest.

But the method could also be used in social net­works to iden­tify the people whose opin­ions deter­mine everyone else’s, helping to pre­dict the out­come of, say, a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Or it could help ecol­o­gists to single out the par­tic­ular species to track to follow changes in an entire ecosystem, to name just a few poten­tial applications.

Read the article at Scientific American →