Determining tennis' greatest player
Greatest tennis player of all time? The answer will rock your world
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW THE BEST ATHLETE or team in any sport, there's a straightforward way to figure it out: Have everyone play everyone else a significant number of times and see who earns the best record. Of course, in most sports, that's impossible to do, which often leads to the mother of all sports riddles: If Team A beats Team B, and Team B beats Team C, and Team C beats Team A, how do you rank the three teams?
Well, thanks to scientists in a field called complex network analysis, there's a novel way to solve this conundrum -- and settle a whole lot of bar arguments.
A network is simply any system of points connected by paths that carry information. Networks are everywhere. Groups of proteins that interact within cells are networks. A large set of tennis pros who routinely play each other is a network. So is your set of Facebook friends. So is the Internet itself, for that matter.
To read more about who is the greatest tennis player of all time and the significance of network analysis, you must be an ESPN Insider.
ESPN The Magazine: August 22, 2011