Making the Connection

Graph theory is a visual way to represent relationships between objects. One of the simplest uses of graph theory is a family tree that shows how different people are related. Another application is social networks like Facebook, where a network of "friends" and their "friends" can be represented using graphs. Students learn and apply concepts and methods of graph theory to analyze data for different relationships such as friendships and physical proximity. They are asked about relationships between people and how those relationships can be illustrated. As part of the lesson, students are challenged to find the social graph of their friends. This prepares students for the associated activity during which they simulate and analyze the spread of disease using graph theory by assuming close proximity to an infected individual causes the disease to spread.