“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die,” says Cersei Lannister in the first season of HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones (GoT). A CEU PhD candidate thinks he knows who will win – or at least who will die before the cult show finally comes to a close on May 19, 2019.
Before the premiere of the previous season in 2017, Milan Janosov, along with millions of fellow GoT fans, wondered who amongst his favorite characters was going to meet their [quite possibly grisly] demise. He decided to apply knowledge gained in CEU’s Department of Network and Data Science to find out who would make it through to the last season of the epic struggle for the Iron Throne.
“Game of Thrones is a complex world, one in which a character’s social position and friendship network is quite important, Janosov explains. “I used the TV show's episodes to create a social network of the realm of Westeros, determined various centrality parameters of both the dead and the living characters, and then applied a support vector machine model to predict the likelihood of each existing character’s expiration before the end of the series.”
In 2017 Janosov looked at 34 well-known characters. Despite the apparent simplicity of his model, the doctoral student correctly predicted the death of the first four characters on his list, as well as the survival of others.
Now that winter is finally here, Janosov has updated the list, based on the rearranged social networks of the surviving characters. So, according to network science, just who is next for the chop? (NOTE spoiler alert!):
1. Jon being the most important character based on almost all network measures, he has a predicted chance of ~44% chance of dying, so his fate looks slightly better than if just flipped a coin;
2. Bran is finally close to the action which bodes a rather bad future for him;
3. Daenerys has apparently made enough influential friends to make it through; however, those around her might get sacrificed on her mission;
4. People around Cersei are disappearing, which influences the probabilities for her and those close to her;
5. Theon and Jorah have a good chance (perhaps based on previous experiences) to survive; and
6. Tormund, a favorite wilding to many, may not only escape from the falling Wall but survive the entire war.
Want to know more? Janosov explains his methodology here.