Mathematics of text messaging could help cellcos manage networks

By Casey Johnston

Human communication patterns, particularly in the form of text messages, appear to follow a pattern that’s a fusion of two mathematical models. In a paper published in PNAS on Monday, researchers analyzed a large set of text messages from service providers and found most users trade over 90 percent of their messages in bursts with only one other person, followed by an exponential drop into silence. The pattern may be due to interplay between the number and priority of tasks the two parties are trying to accomplish together, and the math behind them may help service providers manage their resources.

Scientists have lately been swimming in human communication data, from emails to texts and phone calls. As more and more people get cell phones and computers, all this information is begging to be analyzed for the benefit of mobile and Internet service providers, not to mention for its value as a wider indicator of human behavior.

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