Okay, I know it’s the weekend, and you’re probably still half-asleep and in no mood for math. But relax, this is fun math. Well, fun if you’re really into applied graph theory. There are pretty graphs to look at, and I promise you won’t have to solve any of those weird equations with all the funny symbols that make it look like your cat randomly walked across the keyboard. Oh, and it involves Game of Thrones. Maybe I should have led with that. Okay, we’ll start again: who is the most important character in Game of Thrones? Hint: it’s not Jon Snow. Sorry, fans of the bastard of Winterfell.
Mathematicians at Macalester College utilized network science, “a new and evolving branch of applied graph theory that brings together traditions from many disciplines, including sociology, economics, physics, computer science, and mathematics” to perform a network analysis of the HBO fantasy series. Andrew J. Beveridge and undergraduate Jie Shan examined A Storm of Swords, the third book in George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, and the basis of seasons 3 and 4 of the show. Their study revealed that three characters – Sansa Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow – are mentioned more than anyone else, but only one can be considered the book’s protagonist. “In our network, three characters stand out consistently: Tyrion, Jon, and Sansa. Acting as the Hand of the King, Tyrion is thrust into the center of the political machinations of the capitol city. Our analysis suggests that he is the true protagonist of the book.” The study does mention things like Eigenvector Centrality, combinatorial probability, and “a fast approximation algorithm called the Louvain method.” Well, of course they would use the Louvain method. I mean, what else would they use?