Remembering What We Like: Toward an Agent-Based Model of Web Traffic

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Executive Summary

Analysis of aggregate Web traffic has shown that PageRank is a poor model of how people actually navigate the Web. Using the empirical traffic patterns generated by a thousand users over the course of two months, the authors characterize the properties of Web traffic that cannot be reproduced by Markovian models, in which destinations are independent of past decisions. In particular, they show that the diversity of sites visited by individual users is smaller and more broadly distributed than predicted by the PageRank model; that link traffic is more broadly distributed than predicted; and that the time between consecutive visits to the same site by a user is less broadly distributed than predicted.

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