Mathematics reveals curious facts about Star Wars

Using innovative software, a team of researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, has discovered a rare vision within the universe of Star Wars, the epic space opera franchise created by U.S. scriptwriter and director George Lucas that has millions of fans worldwide since the saga began in 1977.

Thanks to the new algorithm - developed in the Signal Processing Laboratory 2 (LTS2) - which takes advantage of the principles of graph theory and mathematical calculations performed by a computer, experts tested the software with hundreds of websites on the network dedicated exclusively to the successful saga that has transcended the big screen (books, games, etc ...).

The results have revealed interesting data: Star Wars has more than 20,000 characters spread over 640 communities over a period of 36,000 years: "Fans will be surprised to learn, for example, that we count more than 20,000 characters; among them, 7,500 play an important role," explains Kirell Benzi, leader of the study.

In addition, the eternal rivalry of the Sith and Jedi factions also offers its statistics: there are 1,367 Jedi and 724 Sith characters. Despite the multitude of races and species that coexist in the galaxy like the Nautolans or the Toydarians (before the Republic, in the Ancient Republic, during the Empire, the rebellion, the New Republic or the Jedi Order), almost 80% of the population is human.

"To put some order into this massive data forest, we have based our approach on network analysis. In other words, all the connections a character has with the rest of them. Using these cross-references, we have been able to accurately determine the character's time period almost without exception, even though this information is not provided directly in books or movies," says Xavier Bresson, co-author of the study.

The achievement of this software is that it traces connections in the mass of unorganised data available on the Internet, and the algorithms developed by LTS2 researchers provide very accurate data that can be quantified, ordered, and, of course, easy to read.

According to the experts, "this method could be useful to fill the knowledge gaps that remain in historical and sociological research and in numerous scientific fields as well".

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