Friday, March 13, 2015

A new feature to the onomastic database of Trismegistos People: Network

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A new feature to the onomastic database of Trismegistos People: Network
An onomastic network on the basis of genealogical relations 

Networks are ways to map connections between elements, in this case names. Each name is represented by a node (the dots), and each connection is shown as an edge (or link or tie: the lines between the dots).

The nature of the connection can be chosen freely. In this network there is a link between name A and name B if a person with name A chose name B for his or her son or daughter. If more people with name A have opted for name B, the link will be tighter (and the line visualising it thicker). The networks of the more popular names resemble 'spaghetti monsters', as they are connected with many other names. To see where the name itself is, hover over the transcription in the information pane to the right of the window.

There are many network measures to describe the features of the network as a whole, as well as those of individual nodes and ties: betweenness centrality, Eigenvector, density, modularity, ... Here we have limited the information to degree centrality, which is how many other names a name is connected to. Since the network is directed (meaning that there is a direction from parent to child), we distinguish between out-degree (how many different names are chosen by parents with that name) and in-degree (how many different names are attested for the parents of children with that name).
E.g. When the name Thotortaios has a degree of 184, this means he occurs in 184 different parent - child pairs. The out-degree of 85 means that Thotortaios is the father's name of children with 85 different names. The name's in-degree of 99 implies that 99 different fathers' or mothers' names are attested. 

The names are coloured according to their linguistic origin, as follows: Blue = Egyptian
Green = Greek
Yellow = hybrid (combining elements from two or more languages and traditions)
Orange = Latin
Turquoise = Semitic
Pink = Other (e.g. Macedonian, Thracian, Gallic, ...)
Grey = Unknown

In principle the shape of the network is irrelevant: as long as nodes are connected, they can be placed anywhere. But as humans have difficulty seeing the 69,860 edges between the 17,182 nodes (names in this case), programs like Gephi can adapt the visual representation of the network according to specific layout algoritms. In this case we have used 'ForceAtlas 2". The 47-second video below shows this process, which in fact took the MacBook Air over 22 minutes.

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