Tuesday, July 4, 2006

IEEE Spectrum Refutes Metcalfe's Law

IEEE Spectrum magazine published an article refuting the theory that the value of a communications network is proportional to the square number of its users, first proposed by Ethernet pioneer Robert M. Metcalfe in 1980.



The authors, Bob Briscoe, Andrew Odlyzko and Benjamin Tilly, compare Metcalfe's Law to other growth curves, including Reed's and Sarnoff's laws, and argue that network growth increases not linearly or exponentially, but logarithmically at a much slower rate.



"In our view, much of the difference between the artificial values of the dot-com era and the genuine value created by the Internet can be explained by the difference between the Metcalfe-fueled optimism of n-squared and the more sober reality of n log(n)."http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/jul06/4109

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