It's Paul Olarewaju's Blog Again!!!: Game Of Thrones: Mathematicians Figure Out The Most Important Character In The Hit TV Series

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Friday, 1 April 2016

Game Of Thrones: Mathematicians Figure Out The Most Important Character In The Hit TV Series


The world of A Song of Ice And Fire (or Game of Thrones if you’re a TV person), is a huge labyrinth of characters upon characters, endlessly interacting in a web of lies, deceit and betrayal.

And whilst its quite easy to name the most significant characters- Arya, Tyrion, Dany, Jon and many others instantly spring to mind- it’s a lot more difficult to pinpoint who
actually is the main or most important character, ala Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) on Boardwalk Empire or Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) on House of Cards.

This is because the story follows different threads simultaneously, and the protagonists and antagonists are accordingly spread out.

Andrew J. Beveridge, an associate professor of mathematics at Macalester College, and Jie Shan, an undergraduate, created a model aimed at discovering who the most important character in the sprawling show is.

Quartz reports….

The pair started by connecting characters every time they “interacted” in the third book of the series, A Storm of Swords. Whenever two characters appeared within 15 words of one another, a link (or “edge”) was added between them. The links are weighted based on how often the two characters appeared in close proximity. Characters don’t necessarily have to be friends to be linked—which is a good thing because there are few true friendships in the series.


The resulting network structure (above) broke the characters into extremely accurate communities that show the geographical, familial, and even adversarial ties between them.

Then the mathematicians ranked the characters by several different measures. One, called degree centrality, simply ranks the characters by how many others they’re connected with. Other measures, like PageRank (the same algorithm that Google uses for its search engine), actually puts the characters into a feedback loop, rewarding them based on how important the people that they’re associated with are in the network.

And finishing on top? The Imp, scion of House Lannister, Tyrion. He ranked first in every measure used by the mathematicians save for one. Following him were siblings Jon Snow and Sansa Stark.

Daenerys ranked high as well, but failed to crack the top three due to her aloofness from many other main characters, because she has been exiled in Essos since the beginning of the show. Other characters that merited a high rank were Arya Stark, Robb Stark, Robert Baratheon and Jaime Lannister.

Sounds about right for the complicated world of Westeros. Game of Thrones season six returns to HBO on April 24.

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