Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Randall Harp


Apples, porcupines, and the most obscure Bob Dylan song'is every topic a few clicks from Philosophy? Within Wikipedia, the surprising answer is yes: nearly all paths lead to Philosophy. Wikipedia is the largest, most meticulously indexed collection of human knowledge ever amassed. More than information about a topic, Wikipedia is a web of naturally emerging relationships. By following the first link in each article, we algorithmically construct a directed network of all 4.7 million articles: Wikipedia's First Link Network.

Here we study the English edition of Wikipedia's First Link Network for insight into how the many inventions, places, people, objects, and events are related and organized. We traverse every path, measuring the accumulation of first links, path lengths, basins, cycles, and the influence each article exerts in shaping the network. We discover scale-free distributions describe path length, accumulation, and influence. Far from dispersed, first links disproportionately accumulate at a few articles'flowing from specific to general and culminating around fundamental notions such as Community, State, and Science. Philosophy shapes more paths than any other article by two orders of magnitude. Curiously, we also observe a gravitation towards topical articles such as Health Care and Fossil Fuel. These findings enrich our view of the connections and structure of Wikipedia's ever growing store of knowledge.



Number of Pages

36 p.

Included in

Mathematics Commons