I keep thinking that there may be a new subset of IT Law called Network Law, interested with the formation, regulation, and study of networks. An article in The Economist is making the usual rounds through the blogosphere describing an interesting paper by Seth Chandler of the University of Houston, where he maps the network of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and discovers that there is a scale-free topology at work. Apparently, some older cases about Federal Jurisdiction are the hubs on the network.

This is yet another interesting use of the mathematics of networks. I am sure that in the near future there will be many other applications for such studies in the law.

Categories: Networks


David BB · September 5, 2005 at 9:05 am

I read the economist article with horror. Let's face it law is a qualitative discpline. You cannot expect a computer programme, no matter how sophisticated to get at the *meaning* of law. So this entire project is completely misguided, and rather over-hyped and misrepresented in the economist.

Andres Guadamuz · September 5, 2005 at 9:35 am

Hi David,I must admit that I agree with the comment that the original article was over-hyped. I really did not find anything in the original article that made me think "wow, this is "Economist" material. I thought that the original study was interesting in trying to look at the citeability of cases, which may give an idea as to which legal arguments stand the test of time better. Does citeability tells us anything about the law? I really don't think so, but I think that it is useful to know which arguments are cited the most.

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