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Duncan J. Watts

Duncan James Watts (born 1971) is a sociologist and principal researcher at Microsoft Research, New York City known for his work on small-world networks.
Watts was past external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute and a former professor of sociology at Columbia University, where he headed the Collective Dynamics Group. He is also author of two books. His first, Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age is based on the six degrees research in his 1998 paper with Steven Strogatz, in which the two presented a mathematical theory of the small world phenomenon. His second book, Everything is Obvious *Once You Know the Answer: How Common Sense Fails Us, explains common errors people make when making decisions especially for groups or organizations, and suggests alternative methods using research and data. He also presents some of his research from Yahoo and Microsoft, and comments on the work of some popular nonfiction writers like Malcolm Gladwell.
Until April 2012, he was a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research, where he directed the Human Social Dynamics group. Watts joined Microsoft Research in New York City by its opening on May 3, 2012.
Watts describes his research as exploring the "role that network structure plays in determining or constraining system behavior, focusing on a few broad problem areas in social science such as information contagion, financial risk management, and organizational design." More recently he has attracted attention for his modern-day replication of Stanley Milgram's small world experiment using email messages and for his studies of popularity and fads in on-line and other communities.