A word network consists of a collection of words of the same length, in which any two words that differ by only a single letter in one position (such as EAT and FAT, or STORE and SWORE) are joined by a link. A word ladder, originally invented by Lewis Carroll, joins two words in a network to each other by means of a path traced through successive links (such as EAT-BAT-BAND-BIN-PIN). Ordinarily, there are many such possible paths involving many different intermediate words.
Eckler, A. Ross
"The Structure of a Word Network,"
Word Ways: Vol. 22
, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/wordways/vol22/iss3/3