Mathematicians have proved Tyrion is the most important player in Game of Thrones

Well-connected. Picture: HBO

Tyrion Lannister is the true hero of “Game of Thrones”. Maths says so.

Of course, being “Game of Thrones” most probably means we’ll soon see the end of the long-suffering, short-statured protagonist, but for now, Tyrion is comfortably the character most central to all the plot twists in HBO’s blockbuster series.

That might seem obvious to readers of the books who have probably noticed Tyrion gets far more point-of-view chapters than any other characters.

But Andrew J. Beveridge, an associate professor of mathematics at Macalester College, and undergraduate Jie Shan made their study, “Network of Thrones”, about more than just mentions, instead focusing on connections between characters.

Essentially, they turned Westeros and Essos into a social network using a branch of applied graph theory known as “network science”. The US Department of Defense has been using it as an operational concept for 20 years and opened the Network Science Center with the US Army in 2004.

Beveridge and Shan applied it to the third book in the series “A Storm of Swords”, which also provides the material for the larger part of seasons three and four in the TV adaptation. They chose it because “the main narrative has matured, with the characters scattered geographically and enmeshed in their own social circles”.

They marked down every instance where two characters were mentioned within 15 words of each other. That also meant the pair didn’t have to be friends – remember, Beveridge and Shan were studying connections, not influences or popularity, in order to gauge which character was key to the most plotlines.

The more times each character was mentioned alongside another, the fatter the line (called and “edge”) linking them on the network below grew:

Image: Andrew J Beveridge, Jie Shan

It’s easy to see Tyrion is the most involved, but Beveridge and Shan say the real surprise “may be the prominence of Sansa Stark, a de facto captive in King’s Landing”.

“However, other players are aware of her value as a Stark heir and they repeatedly use her as a pawn in their plays for power. If she can develop her cunning, then she can capitalize on her network importance to dramatic effect.”

Second in line is Jon Snow, but he’s dead now. Maybe.

Whether he stays that way through season six, which begins on April 24, remains to be seen. It’s the first time the TV series has moved ahead of the novels, so no one apart from the crew and George R.R. Martin know if either Jon or Tyrion make it to season seven.

All we do know is the loss of either one will leave a huge hole in a lot of lives on Westeros.

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