From Caesar to Twitter: An Axiomatic Approach to Elites of Social Networks

Chen Avin, Zvi Lotker, Yvonne-Anne Pignolet, Itzik Turkel

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


In many societies there is an elite, a relatively small group of powerful individuals that is well connected and highly influential. Since the ancient days of Julius Caesar’s senate of Rome to the recent days of celebrities on Twitter, the size of the elite is a result of conflicting social forces competing to increase or decrease it.
The main contribution of this paper is the answer to the question how large the elite is at equilibrium. We take an axiomatic approach to solve this: assuming that an elite exists and it is influential, stable and either minimal or dense, we prove that its size must be Θ(√m) (where m is the number of edges in the network). As an approximation for the elite, we then present an empirical study on nine large real-world networks of the subgraph formed by the highest degree nodes, also known as the rich-club. Our findings indicate that elite properties such as disproportionate influence, stability and density of Θ(√m)-rich-clubs are universal properties and should join a growing list of common phenomena shared by social networks and complex systems such as “small world,” power law degree distributions, high clustering, etc.
Original languageEnglish GB
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NamearXiv preprint


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