All I can remember is that it was very high-level / abstact and kind of philosophical, explaining (the discovery or interdependence of) small world networks. I assume that it was +50 years old and 'might' be an iconic paper, but maybe not - surely it was by far not as popular as the, already mentioned, paper "small world networks and their dynamics" by Duncan J. Watts & Steven H. Strogatz, but also it was on a completely different level of math.

I think I found it once on Azimuth Blog from John Carlos Baez. But it is very large and I don't even find "small world network" in the search (it might have also been mentioned by someone in the comment section).

  • $\begingroup$ 'Theoretical' pretty much describes all of pure mathematics, so I guess you mean it here more or less as a synonym for 'philosophical', or perhaps for 'speculative'? $\endgroup$ – LSpice Aug 7 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ That is true, 'theoretical' is not well suited. Let's say, 'very high-level, abstract' mathematics. Like proof theory or universal algorithms. $\endgroup$ – bambamfox Aug 10 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ I replaced the model-theory tag with mathematical-modeling. Model theory is a branch of mathematical logic, which doesn't actually have anything to do with mathematical models in the applied math sense. $\endgroup$ – Alex Kruckman Aug 11 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ Surely this is an intersting point, but could you elaborate? The title of the paper is "On models and modelling" and I would say, it is not applied.. (well it was released in an applied mathematics journal xD) $\endgroup$ – bambamfox Aug 16 at 8:22

Stanley Milgram, The Small World Problem, Psychology Today 2, 60 (1967)

seems to fit the bill: +50 years old, "kind of philosophical", and yes, iconic -- cited more than 9,000 times. There are a few related papers in that time frame, listed here, but the paper from Psychology Today had the largest impact.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh, a Milgram paper. Thank you very much for this! (Unfortunately it's not the one I am looking for) $\endgroup$ – bambamfox Aug 10 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ I answered my question below, but I'll mark your answer as correct, for being a very valueable addition ;) $\endgroup$ – bambamfox Aug 10 at 21:21

I am answering my own question, because I actually did find it again (after 5 years and many tries). It was not even close to being iconic nor +50y (it just looked old) nor specific on small networks :)

Rosen, R. (1993). On models and modeling. Applied mathematics and computation, 56(2-3), 359-372. PDF

Thanks @Carlo Beenakker for bringing up the Milgram paper!

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