In just over three short weeks, HBO's iconic fantasy series Game of Thrones will return for Season 6, which is by far the most secretive yet. We've only seen a few trailers with bits and pieces of new footage, and loyal readers of George R.R. Martin's books have been left in the dark as well, since the show has caught up with his novel series. And it isn't known when his sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, will be published. While fans continue the countdown towards this upcoming season, Macalester College math professor Andrew J. Beveridge and undergraduate Jie Shan published a research paper dubbed Network of Thrones, where they use math equations to determine who the most important character in all of Westeros really is.
Of course, given the show's massive and sprawling cast, which often changes drastically from season to season, this is certainly no easy feat. But it's worth noting that these mathematicians didn't use the actual show itself in their research. Andrew J. Beveridge and undergraduate Jie Shan used George R.R. Martin's third book, A Storm of Swords, as the basis for their study, which was used as the basis for both Season 3 and Season 4, since the narrative had "matured" and the main characters were scattered all throughout Westeros. Here's an excerpt from this research paper that explains the mathematical principles they used.
"To demystify this saga, we turn to network science, a new and evolving branch of applied graph theory that brings together traditions from many disciplines, including sociology, economics, physics, computer science, and mathematics. It has been applied broadly across the sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, and in industrial settings. In this article we perform a network analysis of Game of Thrones to make sense of the intricate character relationships and their bearing on the future plot (but we promise: no spoilers!)."
Their first task was to turn the world of Westeros into a "social network" of sorts, which helped determine which characters were connected to each other. Their five-page research paper concluded that three characters were mentioned the most, but the person they dubbed the "true protagnoist" of A Storm of Swords is the half-man himself, Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage on the hit series. Here's another excerpt from the paper which reveals their final findings.
"In our network, three characters stand out consistently: Tyrion, Jon, and Sansa. Acting as the Hand of the King, Tyrion is thrust into the center of the political machinations of the capitol city. Our analysis suggests that he is the true protagonist of the book."
Of course, this analysis only applies to one book out of five that have already been written, with two more on the way, but it certainly isn't hard to argue that Tyrion is the true protagonist of the whole series. According to the show's IMDB page, Peter Dinklage has appeared in 47 episodes of the show's 51 episodes, which includes this month's Season 6 premiere, which is the most of any cast member on the show. You can visit Network of Thrones to read the entire research paper, and stay tuned for more on Game of Thrones as we impatiently await the season premiere on April 24.