Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than four intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called Chains. The concept is based on the idea that the number of acquaintances grows exponentially with the number of links in the chain, and so only a small number of links is required for the set of acquaintances to become the whole human population.

By extension, the same term is often used to describe any other setting in which some form of link exists between individual entities in a large set. For example, "see also" links in a dictionary entry may point the reader to other entries in the same dictionary; after following only six such links, the reader could potentially get to any word in the dictionary that has a link to it. In this special case of a dictionary, it is sometimes called the six links rule.

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