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Usually when you read a book or watch a television show, it’s pretty obvious who the main protagonist is. Even if you’re embroiled in a series that constantly throws cool, relatable characters at you, there’s still a feeling throughout the story that lets you know who the big hero is. Well, as most people know by now, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones does not play by those rules. And, neither does the acclaimed TV show based on his series of novels. Now, though, it looks like some mathematicians may have found the answer to the long-debated question of “Who the hell is the main character in Game of Thrones?” According to their mathematical process, the lead character on the show is, drumroll, please…Tyrion Lannister.
Andrew J. Beveridge, an associate professor of mathematics at Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota, and undergraduate Jie Shan have used a type of math known as network science to determine the most important character in the Game of Thrones universe. Beveridge spoke to Quartz about their research, titled “Network of Thrones,” which was published in this month’s Mathematical Association of America journal Math Horizons.
For the uninitiated, network science studies complex networks by using theories and methods from math, physics, computer science, statistics and sociology to study “network representations of physical, biological, and social phenomena leading to predictive models of these phenomena.” Using the third book of the series, “A Storm of Swords,” the researchers began by linking characters when they appeared within 15 words of each other, and then the importance of those links was based on how often the characters appeared that closely together.
Those links resulted in a network that allowed the mathematicians to rank the characters by several different measures. And, with the exception of one of those measures, Tyrion ranked first among all Game of Thrones characters. This means that, according to math, Tyrion is the big dog in the GOT world, whether anyone realizes it or not.
Of course, if you’ve read the books, this might not be that surprising. Tyrion has the most point of view chapters in the series so far, which currently stands at a whopping 47, even though he was out as a P.O.V. character in “A Feast for Crows.” And, as far as the HBO version of Game of Thrones goes, it’s hard to deny that Tyrion is certainly one of the most likeable and root-worthy characters of the show to still live. Tyrion might not always do the right thing, but he’s smart and crafty without using his talents solely to hurt others for his own gain, and he’s gone unappreciated most of his life, so anyone watching who’s ever been in the same boat is bound to want him to succeed.
In case you’re wondering, there were runners-up to the title of most important Game of Thrones character. Jon Snow (no real surprise there) came in second and (Who’d have guessed this?) Sansa Stark places third.
So what does this mean? Well, considering that it’s Game of Thrones that we’re talking about, not much, except that Tyrion is connected to a lot of people and a lot of people talk about him. This doesn’t (necessarily) mean that he’s going to win the throne, or that he’ll even live to see someone else win the throne. So, all us Tyrion lovers should just take this as confirmation that we have picked the right dude to root for, whatever his ultimate ending looks like.
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