06 November 2006

Metcalf's law discussion

Some of you might have heard about Metcalf's Law, which states that the value of a communications network grows as the number of users grows. So, you might be interested in listening in to a conversation that was stimulated by an article in July's IEEE Spectrum.

So what do you think? Who is right? Does the growth rate matter?

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sjshin said...

Metcalfe's law could be applied to the following area?
"The number of Hot Spots increases, WiFi user's utility increases based on (1) N^2 or (2) N*log(N). Both are assumed with "Increasing Marginal Utility". Or Do you think "Marginal Utility of WiFi user" will decrease with the increase of number of Hot-Spot? I chose N*Log(N) in my simulation which was done by yesterday, ...

Pat said...

This article is trying to define something between the two (quite) extreme laws; Sarnoff's and Metcalfe's. Sarnoff’s law will be correct if we consider all users are acting as consumers and there are only a few broadcasters in the network like those in television world. Nonetheless, the other extreme, Metcalfe’s law, will be correct if everyone in the network is connected to one another.

It is interesting that the authors come up with a law in natural language utterances. It is a good idea that we can relate a mathematical model with real human. This article uses an experimental law, Zipf's Law, to construct their law and are saying that not every peer in our network is equally important to us even if we are connected to everyone. This is true in current situation.

I think the growth rate is essential in the sense that providers value their network investment correctly so that the risk can be minimized.