Archive | June, 2013

16 June 2013 ~ 0 Comments

NetSci 2013 Report

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, during the first week of June the NetSci conference took place. NetSci is the main venue that brings together all researchers interested and involved in network science. It has always been a gigantic opportunity to put you in contact with the big shots in network analysis and an excellent playground for very interesting discussions. This year was no different.

Of course, for me the most important part of it was the very first day, when the satellite on multiple networks (organized by myself together with Matteo Magnani, Dino Pedreschi, Luca Rossi, Guido Caldarelli and Przemyslaw Kazienko) happened. As I wrote more than once in the past, multiple networks are networks in which the nodes may be connected with different kinds of interactions (friendship, collaboration, and so on).

It was an extremely interesting event; a first step to bring together many researchers working on the topic of multiple networks, most of whom hadn’t spoken to each other up until then. And when I say it was a smooth and successful operation, you don’t have to take my word for it. We have proof of a room full of brilliant minds taking up all the available spots… and beyond:

The talks were very impressive:

  • We learnt how to measure eigenvector centrality on multiple networks (and you can too);
  • We learnt how to extend basic measures from regular complex networks to multiple networks (and you can too);
  • We learnt how to mine network with heterogeneous information on nodes and edges (and you can too);
  • We learnt how to detect communities on multiple networks (and you can too);
  • We learnt how to infer the latent structure of inter-related networks (and you can too);
  • We learnt how a random walker behaves on dynamic networks (and you can too);
  • We learnt about the structure and dynamics of multiple networks (and you can too);
  • And we learnt how the properties of multiple networks arise when adding one network at a time (and you can too).

But NetSci, of course, was much more than just this satellite. Another event you absolutely didn’t want to miss there was the Arts, Humanities and Complex Networks Symposium, organized by Max Schich and Isabel Meirelles.

They are both great guys, with a gigantic knowledge about art and design. For example, they picked up a great reference for the logo of their symposium, namely one of the most known infographics made about visual arts, by Alfred Barr:

And besides the usual great lineup of talks (from the Wikidata project to a very cool movie ranking multiple network algorithm) you can learn surprising stuff about basically everything. My favorite: the observation of one of the speakers about the above visualization itself. Apparently, he was the first to realize that there is a bull up there (hint: Cubism lays in between the bull’s horns). As Max then puts it:

Then… the rest of the conference. It is impossible to even give a close idea of the overload of ideas and flashes of genius that populated the venue for those three days. I’ll work around the problem and cheat by giving you a laundry list of (a very tight subset of) the things that most impressed me during the conference:

  • The excellent invited talk by Shlomo Havlin about interdependent networks (networks which depend on each other to function, much like a computer network controlling the electric grid). This interests me because he claims that interdependent networks are a more general case of multiple networks (although I personally have an inkling that perhaps they can be reduced to the same model);
  • The usual spectacular presentation style of my friend Cesàr Hidalgo, who this time talked about a complex system showing a nested structure: namely, the cultural exports of different countries;
  • A really great contributed talk by Esteban Moro, which in my opinion could have been a keynote speech as well. Dr. Moro highlighted how people have a trade-off between social capacity (how many relationships we can keep alive) and social activity (how many new people we can meet). As a consequence, different social strategies arise;
  • A brilliant mathematical formulation of a network problem by Jure Leskovec, that, in my opinion, could be the final word about the problem itself. And it resembles the formal mathematical formulation of the same algorithmic idea behind my DEMON;
  • And the hilarious ignite talks, 5 minutes and 20 slides for each speaker. There was no possibility of interacting, with the presentation automatically jumping to the next slide every 15 seconds. Next year I definitely want to try to do one too.

And, of course, many other things. But you get the idea: blog posts about it are boring, you really have to experience it yourself.

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