Mathematicians Attempt To Find The Main Character Of ‘Game Of Thrones’ Using Statistical Analysis

By 04.01.16


Game of Thrones is much different from any other television show, it has such a vast world that includes so many key characters. Just when a character appears to be climbing the ladder to becoming the main character, they are hit with a major setback or even worse, killed off. The question remains, who is the main character of Game of Thrones? Two enterprising individuals decided to use mathematics to answer this quizzical query.

Associate professor of mathematics Andrew J. Beveridge and student Jie Shan from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, used math in an attempt to logically declare a main character of GoT.

The math-loving duo did extensive research and transformed the Game of Thrones books into a social network using network science.

The Cambridge Journals defines network science as he following:

Network science is a new journal for a new discipline – one using the network paradigm, focusing on actors and relational linkages, to inform research, methodology, and applications from many fields across the natural, social, engineering and informational sciences. Given growing understanding of the interconnectedness and globalization of the world, network methods are an increasingly recognized way to research aspects of modern society along with the individuals, organizations, and other actors within it.

The project, which is aptly titled Network of Thrones and published in the Mathematical Association of America’s Math Horizons publication, started by connecting characters every time they “interacted” in the third book of the series, A Storm of Swords. An interaction was called a “link” or an “edge” and was defined as whenever two characters appeared within 15 words of one another. Links did not matter if they were specified as friendly or hostile.

“This is a fanciful application of network science,” Beveridge told Quartz. “But it’s the kind of accessible application that shows what mathematics is all about, which is finding and explaining patterns.”

The mathematicians ranked the characters by several different measures including a rating called “degree centrality,” which classifies the characters by how many other power players they are connected to. Another measurement utilized PageRank, the algorithm that Google uses to prioritize websites on its search engine.

Through the statistical analysis of the dynamic relationships they found that Tyrion Lannister was the protagonist of Game of Thrones. The imp was followed by the possibly dead Jon Snow as the second most influential character. Sansa Stark rounds out the top three.

Tyrion as the main character isn’t surprising considering he has the most point-of-view chapters in the book series, with 49. But the amount of POV chapters did not always equate to a higher position because Arya Stark has the third most chapters with 34, but ranks behind her older sister Sansa.

Curiously missing of course is Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons. Unfortunately for her, she scored a lower ranking because she is isolated on the continent Essos instead of Westeros where all the other power brokers are located.

But what about Hodor?


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