Archive | Conferencing

15 March 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Networks in Economics Satellite @ Networks21 Conference

This year’s NetSci conference will be special. For the first time it will be held jointly with the other major network event of the year: Sunbelt, or the main network conference for social sciences. I could not miss an opportunity like this, and so I decided to organize a satellite event with the excellent Morgan Frank and Lingfei Wu. The topic of the satellite will be network applications on research about economic development and innovation.

We’re looking for contributors to send an abstract about their work in the area. If you’re unsure about what area that is, think about my research on the Product Space, or on the impact of business travel on economic growth, or economic convergence in Colombia, etc. Specifically, if you are interested in issues like:

  • Mapping the relationship of complex economic activities at the global, regional, and local level;
  • Tracking flows of knowhow in all its forms;
  • Estimating the relatedness of tasks and skills to estimate knockoff effects and productivity gains of automation;
  • Investigating the dynamics of research and innovation via analysis of patents, inventions, and science;
  • Uncovering scaling laws and other growth trends able to describe the systemic increase in complexity of activities due to agglomeration;

and you study them using networks and the tools of the science of complex systems, then you really should send us your abstract. The submission link is: You should send a one-page one-figure abstract before May 5th, 2021.

We have a fantastic lineup of invited speakers you’ll mingle with:

The event will be held online on Zoom. The exact date is still to be determined, but it will be between June 21st and July 3rd. So stay tuned for updates! You should bookmark the official website of the satellite, to get fresh news about it:

I hope to see your abstract in my inbox and then you presenting at the satellite!

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23 July 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Lipari 2019 Report

Last week I answered the call of duty and attended the complex network workshop in the gorgeous Mediterranean island of Lipari (I know, I’m a selfless hero). I thank the organizers for the invitation, particularly Giancarlo Ruffo, fellow nerd Roberta Sinatra, and Alfredo Ferro. This is my usual report, highlighting the things that most impressed me during the visit. Well, excluding the granitas, the beaches, and the walks, because this is not a blog about tourism, however difficult it might be to tell the difference.

Differently from NetSci, there weren’t parallel sessions, so I was able to attend everything. But I cannot report on everything: I don’t have the space nor the skill. So, to keep this post from overflowing and taking over the entire blog, I need to establish some rules. I will only write about a single talk per session, excluding the session in which I presented — I was too tense mentally preparing for my talk to give justice to the session.

Any overrepresentation of Italian speakers in the following line-up is — quite obviously — part of your imagination.

Get ready for a bunch of sunset pictures. Did you know Lipari is a net exporter of sunsets?

Session 1: Ronaldo Menezes talked about spatial concentration and temporal regularities in crime. Turns out, you can use network and data science to fight the mob. One of Ronaldo’s take-home messages was that police should try to nudge criminals to operate outside the areas where they’re used to work in. The more you can push them to unfamiliar territory, the more mistakes they’ll make.

Session 2: The theme of the workshop was brain research, and Giulia Bassignana‘s talk on multiple sclerosis was the first that caught my eye. Giulia presented some models to study the degeneration of physical connections in the brain. While I love all that is related to the brain, seeing people working on the actual physical connections tickles me more than looking at correlation networks from fMRI data, and Giulia was really spot on.

Session 3: Daniela Paolotti presented a wide array of applications of data science for the greater good. Her talk was so amazing it deserves an entire blog post by itself. So I’ll selfishly only mention a slice of it: a project in which Daniela is able to predict the spread of Zika by analyzing human mobility patterns from cellphone data. Why selfishly? Because I humbly played a small role in it by providing the cellphone data from Colombia.

That on the background is Stromboli. With my proverbial bravery, I did not get any closer than this to that lava-spewing monster.

Session 4: If some of you are looking for an academic job this year, I suggest you to talk with Alessandra Urbinati, who presented some intriguing analysis on scientific migration networks. Alessandra showed which countries are emitters and attractors — or both. My move to Denmark seemed to be spot on, as it ranks highly as an attractor. Among countries of comparable size, only Switzerland does a bit better — that’s probably why my sister works there (always one-upping me!).

Session 6: As her custom, Tina Eliassi-Rad proved yet again she is completely unable to give an uninteresting talk. This time she talked about some extremely smart way to count occurrences of graph motifs without going through the notoriously expensive graph isomorphism problem. Her trick was to use the spectrum of non-backtracking matrices. Tina specializes in finding excellent solutions to complex problems by discovering hidden pathways through apparently unrelated techniques. (Seriously, Tina rocks.)

Session 7: Ciro Cattuto‘s talk on graph embeddings really had it all. Not only did Ciro present an extremely smart way to create graph embeddings for time-evolving networks, but he also schooled everybody on the basics of the embedding technique. Basically graph embeddings boil down to representing nodes as vectors via random walks, which can then be used as input for machine learning. I always love when a talk not only introduces a new technique, but also has pedagogical elements that make you a better researcher.

To be fair, we tried to apply some natural selection and get rid of the weakest network scientists by climbing Vulcano. Turns out, we are all pretty fit, so we’re back to evaluating ourselves via the quality of our work, I guess. *shrugging emoticon*

Session 8: Philipp Hövel spoke about accelerating dynamics of collective attention. Have you ever felt that memes and fads seem to pop in and out of existence faster and faster? Philipp showed it’s not your imagination: we’re getting better and faster at producing popular content on social media. This causes a more rapid exhaustion of humanity’s limited attention and results in faster and faster meme cycles.

Session 9: Only tangentially related to networks, Daniel Fraiman talked about some intriguing auction models. The question is: how do you price a product with zero marginal cost — meaning that, once you have the infrastructure, producing the next item is essentially free? The answer is that you don’t: you have an auction where people state their price freely, and at each new bid the current highest bidder gets the next item. This model works surprisingly well in making the full system converge to the actual value of the product.

Session 10: Andrea Tacchella‘s was another talk that was close to my heart. He taught us a new and better way to build the Product Space. I am the author of the current incarnation of it in the Atlas of Economic Complexity, so I ought to hate Andrea. However, my Product Space is from 2011 and I think it is high time to have a better version. And Andrea’s is that version.

Is this group photo a possible contestant with 1927’s 5th Solvay for the best conference group picture? … No, it isn’t, not even close. Why would anyone even bring that up?

Session 11: Did I mention graph isomorphism before? Did I also mention how fiendishly complex of a problem that is? Good. If you can avoid dealing with it, you’ll be happier. But, when life throws graph isomorphism problems at you, first you make isomorphism lemonade, then you can hardly do better than calling Alfredo Pulvirenti. Alfredo showed a very efficient way to solve the problem for labeled multigraphs.

Session 12: The friendship paradox is a well-known counter-intuitive aspect of social networks: on average your friends are more popular than you. Johan Bollen noticed that there is also a correlation between the number of friends you have and how happy you are. Thus, he discovered that there is a happiness paradox: on average your friends are happier than you. Since we evaluate our happiness by comparison, the consequence is that seeing all these happy people on social media make us miserable. The solution? Unplug from Facebook, for instance. If you don’t want to do that, Johan suggests that verbalizing what makes you unhappy is a great way to feel better almost instantly.

And now I have to go back to Copenhagen? Really?

Now, was this the kind of conference where you find yourself on a boat at 1AM in the morning singing the Italian theme of Daitarn 3 on a guitar with two broken strings? I’m not saying it was, but I am saying that that is an oddly specific mental image. Where was I going with this concluding paragraph? I’m not sure, so maybe I should call it quits. Invite me again, pls.

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21 June 2019 ~ 0 Comments

NetSci 2019 Report

NetSci is a conference bringing together everybody interested in network science every year. As usual, I showcase the things that most impressed me during my visit. The usual disclaimer applies: I am but a man[citation needed] and NetSci has so many parallel sessions. If I didn’t mention your talk, chances are that’s because I couldn’t duplicate myself to attend!

Starting from the keynote/plenary talks, I think the one standing our for me this year was Eleanor Power. She presented her field work on the cohesive role played by religion in India. By means of network analysis, she showed that indeed there are some strong effects in the social wiring associated with attending or not attending monthly and seasonal celebrations. This is absolutely superb research not only because it is a great application of network analysis to the real world, nor because it goes beyond the study of WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic) culture. It also speaks to me deeply, given my interest in the powerful role memes and culture play in shaping the astounding success — and, possibly, the future apocalyptic failure — of human beings as a species. Think about the best of Joe Henrich, Slate Star Codex, and The Elephant in the Brain all wrapped up in the neat package of a 40 minutes talk.

The Erdös-Rényi prize, awarded to a prominent network scientist under 40, went to Tiago Peixoto. It’s difficult to choose the best among all the great contributions Tiago gave to the field. Since I have a soft spot for practical advances — I’m a computer scientist at heart, after all –, I’m going to mention that Tiago is the engine behind the graph-tool library. graph-tool includes a variety of network algorithms and it’s wicked fast.

Rather than crowning career achievements as the Erdös-Rényi prize, the Euler award goes to a specific discovery. The first awardee was Raissa D’Souza for her discovery of the properties of explosive percolation. This is a big deal, because it shows that a certain class of transitions in network can be abrupt. Think about the collapse of a power grid: you certainly don’t want that to happen at the failure of a single link. Yet, Raissa proved that there are scenarios in which that can happen: failures can propagate without noticeable effects for a while until BAM!: you’re screwed.

And, since we’re talking about prestigious prizes, I shouldn’t forget the Zachary Karate Club Trophy, going to the first researcher including the Zachary Karate Club network in their presentation. The competition gets hotter and hotter at every conference. The new trophy holder is Emma Towlson.

The dinner banquet was special and touching. Emily Bernard shared her experience and inquiry into American culture. You should really check out her book Black is the Body. Sometimes we need a reminder that, when we perform social network analysis, our nodes are actual people. They have dreams, fears and hopes, they’re alive and active human beings. Emily did well in reminding us about that.

Concluding the part about plenary events: lighting talks. It’s getting tiring every year mentioning Max Schich, but the format really suits him like a glove. He’s truly a Herzog in a sea of Al Gores. Al Gore is great, but sometimes your really need something that stands out. Max talked about the origin of network science, reconnecting it not to Euler, but to Leibniz.  Far from being nitpicking, this is just the starting point of the broader adventure into the creation myths of different branches of science and culture. The talk was a sample of the first chapter of his “Cultural Interaction” book and, in case you were wondering, yes: I think you should read it (once it gets out).

Yours truly was at NetSci with the mission of spreading the word about his paper Functional Structures of US State Governments, a collaboration with Laszlo Barabasi, Steve Kosack, Ricardo Hausmann, Kim Albrecht and Evann Smith. If you want to read more about it, you can check my previous post.

As for the contributed talks that caught my eye? Here is a brief summary:

“The hidden constraints on worker mobility” by Morgan Frank. Morgan analyzed data from O-Net, connecting occupations with the skills they require. He showed there are topological constraints that make it hard for people to retrain out of their occupations. (Why would they want to? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because we’re automating and delegating everything to our new AI overlords?)

“Finding Over- and Under-represented Pathways in Higher Order Networks” by Tim Larock. This was only one of a series of talks about higher order networks. Higher order dynamics means dynamics “with memory”: the next state of your system doesn’t depend only on the current state, but also on an arbitrarily long window into the past. Think about passengers in a flight network: the abundance of connecting flights makes it unlikely for paths like A -> B -> A to happen. Tim showed some neat ways to deal with these situations.

“Scale-free Networks Well Done” by Ivan Voitalov. Just like Petter Holme, I’m a sucker for well-executed steak puns in paper titles. Ivan presented a new chapter over the controversy on how to fit power law degree distributions and whether scale free networks are truly as ubiquitous as some of us believe. Ivan provided some evidence leaning on the “yes” side. I’m eager to see what’s next from the other camp.

“Quantifying Data Bias in the U.S. Justice System” by Xindi Wang. Xindi presented an analysis of predictive errors you can get when applying machine learning algorithms to support decision tasks such as predicting recidivism, estimating the risk of child abuse, and more. This was a nice extension to Tina Eliassi-Rad‘s excellent plenary talk about machine learning ethical issues.

With this, I bid you farewell. See you soon in Rome, home of NetSci 2020!

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13 March 2018 ~ 0 Comments

Complenet 2018 Report

It’s been a while since I wrote a report for a conference I attended and I think it is high time to fix this now. Last week I had the pleasure to be at Complenet, which was hosted by the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University, Boston. I was there to present my work on the meme evolutionary arms race after popularity spikes. Then I had two posters, on my network backboning algorithm — arguably the best way to filter out noise in your network connections, at least according to me 🙂 — and how to detect the degree of hierarchy of your directed networks.

Complenet was a great occasion to reconnect with fun and impossibly smart people like Laszlo, Aaron, Isabel and Gourab. I also had the occasion to talk with new people and learn about the amazing things they are doing. A particular shout out to Ieke De Vries — who works on networks of criminal activities — and Carolina Mattsson — who tracks down money flows in complex networks.

One advantage of small conferences like Complenet over humongous Goliaths like NetSci is that they only have a plenary session, and so you can actually see everything instead of living in the constant fear of missing out on something. I am particularly enthusiastic about the plenary talk by David Lazer. He had put together a very interesting study, connecting Twitter accounts to voting records to show the typical characteristics of accounts spreading fake news on Twitter. I’m not going to talk about Fernanda Viégas & Martin Wattenberg‘s talk on visualizing deep learning here. As usual it was absurdly good, but I already sung their praise in the past and I feel I have to start diversifying.

For the rest of the first day, the two talks that caught my attention were the ones of Megha Padi and Alessio Cardillo (in collaboration with Jesus Gomez-Gardeñes). Megha showed us a way to use networks for the difficult problem of genetic mutations causing diseases in humans. As you probably know, multiple genes are involved in each of our traits, and they interact with each other. It follows that, often, diseases are caused by an ensemble of perturbations in the genetic code. With her ALPACA method, one can create communities of interacting genes to shed some light on these interactions.

Alessio described a network model, where agents have to decide whether to vaccinate or not. It is important to understand how the no-vax movement works and why it can arise. Alessio shows that there are scenarios in which an individual can dodge the cost of vaccination and still reap its benefits, if you were covered by herd immunity anyway. So, if we want to root out this behavior, we have to stop treating it like a completely irrational thing to do. (By the way, Alessio’s collaborator, Jesus, had another talk on hunter-gatherer social networks and it was also pretty fantastic)

For me, Emma Towlson‘s talk dominated the second day. One of the big theoretical results of the past few years is about network controllability. This is a method to figure out which nodes to influence in a network to get the entire system into the state we desire. Emma et al. showed us that this is theory no more. They took the C. Elegans worm, an organism for which we have a complete neural map, and showed how they can predict which neurons are necessary for its signature sine wave movements and which ones are redundant. Acting on the control neurons will significantly change the worm’s movement patterns.

J.-P. Onnela did double duty: besides his plenary talk on inferring parameters for network models, he also presented a great work on social networks in rural India. This talk is tied for best talk of the third day together with the already mentioned one about hunter-gatherer social networks by Jesus. It also shares some similarities, in that it maps social systems in domains that we rarely study — admittedly we’re a bit too focused on Twitter and Facebook and we overlook actual social networks. JP’s results show that a few factors have a great influence whether a social tie will be created or not, chief among them caste membership.

Two students from Tina Eliassi-Rad‘s group — Tim Larock and Xindi Wang — wrapped up the last day perfectly. Tina and her people are doing great work in the conjunction between network and computer science, and I particularly like their approach to the problem of network completion. When you want to use a network somebody else gathered, you often have the problem that: (i) the network is not complete, and (ii) you don’t know how the sample was collected. Tina’s work helps you complete the network, while being completely agnostic about how the network was created in the first place.

To conclude I want to mention William Grant‘s poster. I had to miss it because I was defending my own posters in the same session, but I had the pleasure to see him present during the poster slam and he was brilliant. He won a Poster Slam award, and deservedly so. But then again, he works with Sebastian Ahnert, so of course he must be good.

See you at the next Complenet!

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22 May 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Netonets @ Netsci17: Program

As previously announced, this year’s edition of the Netonets event will happen again as a satellite of NetSci. The conference will take place in Indianapolis. The general program of the conference can be found here: I will be there, hosting the satellite just like last year. It will take place Tuesday, June 20th and it will run for the entire day.

We have just completed a tentative program. We are going to have four great invited speakers: Marta C. Gonzales, Romualdo Pastor-Satorras, Gareth Baxter and Paul Hines. We also have five contributed talks. You can find the first draft of the program down here, subject to change in case of conflicting schedules for any of the participants. I will keep up to date in case that happens.

Looking forward to see you in Indianapolis!

Session I

9:00 – 9:15: Room set up
9:15 – 9:30: Welcome from the organizers
9:30 – 10:15: Invited I: Marta Gonzales: “Coupled networks of mobility and energy”

10:15 – 10:45: Coffee Break

Session II

10:45 – 11:30: Invited II: Gareth Baxter: “Critical dynamics of the interdependent network transition”
11:30 – 11:50: Contributed I: Dana Vaknin, Michael Danziger and Shlomo Havlin: “Spreading of localized attacks in spatial multiplex networks”
11:50 – 12:10: Contributed II: Ivana Bachmann and Javier Bustos-Jiménez: “Seven years of interdependent network’s robustness”

12:10 – 14:00: Lunch Break

Session III

14:00 – 14:45: Invited III: Romualdo Pastor-Satorras: “Effects of temporal correlations in social multiplex networks”
14:45 – 15:05: Contributed III: Zhiwei Yang, Jichao Li, Danling Zhao, Yuejin Tan and Kewei Yang: “Operation Loop based Structural Robustness of Combat Networks of Weapon System-of-systems”
15:05 – 15:25: Contributed IV: Shawn Gu and Tijana Milenkovic: “From Homogeneous to Heterogeneous Network Alignment”
15:25 – 15:45: Contributed V: Louis Shekhtman, Michael Danziger, Ivan Bonamassa, Sergey Buldyrev, Vinko Zlatic and Shlomo Havlin: “Secure message passing in networks with communities”

15:45 – 16:10: Coffee Break

Session IV

16:10 – 16:55: Invited IV: Paul Hines: “Increasing interconnectivity between networks can increase network robustness”
16:55 – 17:30: Round table – Open discussion
17:30 – 17:45: Organizers wrap up

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21 February 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Netonets @ NetSci 2017: Call for Contributions!

We are delighted to invite submissions for

Network of Networks
7th Edition – Satellite Symposium at NetSci2017

taking place in JW Marriott Indianapolis, Indiana, United States,
on June 20th, 2017.

We invite you to submit a 300 word abstract including one descriptive figure using our EasyChair submission link:

Deadline for submission: April 21st, 2017.
Notification of acceptance will be sent out by April 28th, 2017.

Further Information at:

For the seventh time, it is our pleasure to bring together pioneer work in the study of networks of networks. Networks of networks are networks in which the nodes may be connected through different relations, are part of interdependent layers and connected by higher order dynamics. They can represent multifaceted social interactions, critical infrastructure and complex relational data structures. In our call, we are looking for a diversity of research contributions revolving around networks of networks of any kind: in social media, in infrastructure, in culture. We are particularly keen in receiving works raising novel issues and provocative queries in the investigation of networks of networks, as well as new contributions tackling these challenges. How do networks of networks change the paradigm of established problems like percolation or community detection? How are we shifting our thoughts to be ready for this evolution? Running parallel to NetSci, the top network science conference, this event provides a valuable opportunity to connect with leading researchers in complex network science.

Confirmed Keynote:

Marta Gonzales – MIT
Gareth Baxter – University of Aveiro
Romualdo Pastor-Satorras – Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Paul Hines – University of Vermont (UNCONFIRMED)

The final program will strive for the inclusion of contributions from different research fields, creating an interdisciplinary dialogue about networks of networks.

Best regards,
The Netonets organizers,

Antonio Scala, La Sapienza –
Gregorio D’Agostino, ENEA –
Michele Coscia, Harvard University –
Przemysław Kazienko, Wroclaw University of Technology –

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09 June 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Netsci 2016 Report


Another NetSci edition went by, as interconnected as ever. This year we got to enjoy Northeast Asia, a new scenario for us network scientists, and an appropriate one: many new faces popped up both among speakers and attendees. Seoul was definitely what NetSci needed at this time. I want to spend just a few words about what impressed me the most during this trip — well, second most after what Koreans did with their pizzas: that is unbeatable. Let’s go chronologically, starting with the satellites.

You all know I was co-organizing the one on Networks of networks (you didn’t? Then scroll down a bit and get informed!). I am pleased with how things went: the talks we gathered this year were most excellent. Space constraints don’t allow me to give everyone the attention they deserve, but I want to mention two. First is Yong-Yeol Ahn, who was the star of this year. He gave four talks at the conference — provided I haven’t miscounted — and his plenary one on the analysis of the Linkedin graph was just breathtaking. At Netonets, he talked about the internal belief network each one of us carries in her own brain, and its relationship with how macro societal behaviors arise in social networks. An original take on networks of networks, and one that spurred the idea: how much are the inner workings of one’s belief network affected by the metabolic and the bio-connectome networks of one own body? Should we study networks of networks of networks? Second, Nitesh Chawla showed us how high order networks unveil real relationships among nodes. The same node can behave like it is many different ones, depending on which of its connections we are considering.


Besides the most awesome networks of networks satellite, other ones caught my attention. Again, space is my tyrant here, so I get to award just one slot, and I would like to give it to Hyejin Youn. Her satellite was on the evolution of technological networks. She does amazing things tracking how the patent network evolved from the depths of 1800 until now. The idea is to find viable innovation paths, and to predict which fields will have the largest impact in the future.

When it comes to the plenary sessions, I think Yang-Yu Liu stole the spotlight with a flashy presentation about the microcosmos everybody carries in their guts. The analysis of the human microbiome is a very hot topic right now, and it pleases me to know that there is somebody working on a network perspective of it. Besides scientific merits, whoever extensively quotes Minute Earth videos — bonus points for it being the one about poop transplants — has my eternal admiration. I also want to highlight Ginestra Bianconi‘s talk. She has an extraordinary talent in bringing to network science the most cutting edge aspects of physics. Her line of research combining quantum gravity and network geometry is a dream come true for a physics nerd like myself. I always wished to see advanced physics concepts translated into network terms, but I never had the capacity to do so: now I just have to sit back and wait for Ginestra’s next paper.


What about contributed talks? The race for the second best is very tight. The very best was clearly mine on the link between mobility and communication patterns, about which I showed a scaling relationship connecting them (paperpost). I will be magnanimous and spare you all the praises I could sing of it. Enough joking around, let’s move on. Juyong Park gave two fantastic talks on networks and music. This was a nice breath of fresh air for digital humanities: this NetSci edition was orphan of the great satellite chaired by Max Schich. Juyong showed how to navigate through collaboration networks on classical music CDs, and through judge biases in music competitions. By the way, Max dominated — as expected — the lighting talk session, showing some new products coming from his digital humanities landmark published last year in Science.  Tomomi Kito was also great: she borrowed the tools of economic complexity and shifted her focus from the macro analysis of countries to the micro analysis of networks of multinational corporations. A final mention goes to Roberta Sinatra. Her talk was about her struggle into making PhD committees recognize that what she is doing is actually physics. It resonates with my personal experience, trying to convince hiring committees that what I’m doing is actually computer science. Maybe we should all give up the struggle and just create a network science department.

And so we get to the last treat of the conference: the Erdos-Renyi prize, awarded to the most excellent network researcher under the age of 40. This year it went to Aaron Clauset, and this pleases me for several reasons. First, because Aaron is awesome, and he deserves it. Second, because he is the first computer scientist who is awarded the prize, and this just gives me hope that our work too is getting recognized by the network gurus. His talk was fantastic on two accounts.


For starters, he presented his brand new Index of Complex Networks. The interface is pretty clunky, especially on my Ubuntu Firefox, but that does not hinder the usefulness of such an instrument. With his collaborators, Aaron collected the most important papers in the network literature, trying to find a link to a publicly available network. If they were successful, that link went in the index, along with some metadata about the network. This is going to be a prime resource for network scientists, both for starting new projects and for the sorely needed task of replicating previous results.

Replication is the core of the second reason I loved Aaron’s talk. Once he collected all these networks, for fun he took a jab at some of the dogmas of networks science. The main one everybody knows is: “Power-laws are everywhere”. You can see where this is going: the impertinent Colorado University boy showed that yes, power-laws are very common… among the 5-10% of networks in which it is possible to find them. Not so much “everywhere” any more, huh? This was especially irreverent given that not so long before Stefan Thurner gave a very nice plenary talk featuring a carousel of power laws. I’m not picking sides on the debate — I feel hardly qualified in doing so. I just think that questioning dearly held results is always a good thing, to avoid fooling ourselves into believing we’ve reached an objective truth.


Among the non-scientific merits of the conference, I talked with Vinko Zlatic about the Croatian government on the brink of collapse, spread the search for a new network scientist by the Center for International Development, and discovered that Korean pizzas are topped with almonds (you didn’t really think I was going to let slip that pizza reference at the beginning of the post, did you?). And now I made myself sad: I wish there was another NetSci right away, to shove my brain down into another blender of awesomeness.  Oh well, there are going to be plenty of occasions to do so. See you maybe in Dubrovnik, Tel-Aviv or Indianapolis?

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20 May 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Program of Netonets 2016 is Out!

As announced in the previous post, the symposium on networks of networks is happening in less than two weeks: May 31st @ 9AM, room Dongkang C of the K-Hotel Seoul, South Korea. Przemek Kazienko, Gregorio D’Agostino and I have a fantastic program and set of speakers to keep you entertained on multilayer, interdependent and multislice networks. Take a look for yourself!

Session I

9:00 – 9:15: Room set up
9:15 – 9:30: Welcome from the organizers
9:30 – 10:15: Invited I: Yong-Yeol Ahn: Dynamics of social network of belief networks
10:15 – 11:00: Invited II: Luca Maria Aiello: The Nature of Social Links

11:00 – 11:30: Coffee Break

Session II

11:30 – 12:15: Invited III: Jianxi Gao: Networks of Networks: From Structure to Dynamics
12:15 – 13:00: Invited IV: Tomasz Kajdanowicz: Fusion methods for classification in multiplex networks

13:00 – 14:30: Lunch Break

Session III

14:30 – 15:15: Invited V: Michael Danziger: Beyond interdependent networks
15:15 – 15:35: Contributed I: Bruno Coutinho: Greedy Leaf Removal on Hypergraphs
15:35 – 15:55: Contributed II: Yong Zhuang: Complex Contagions in Clustered Random Multiplex Networks

15:55 – 16:30: Coffee Break

Session IV

16:30 – 17:15: Invited VI: Nitesh Chawla: From complex interactions to networks: the higher-order network representation

17:15 – 18:00: Round table – Open discussion
18:00 – 18:15: Organizers wrap up

Remember to register to the main NetSci conference if you want to attend.

Incidentally, the end of May is going to be a rather busy period for me. Besides co-organizing Netonets and speaking at the main Netsci conference, I’m going to present also at the Core50 conference in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, on the role of social and mobility networks in shaping the economic growth of a country. Thanks to Jean-Charles Delvenne for inviting me!

I hope to see many of you there!

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17 March 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Networks of Networks @ NetSci 2016

EDIT: Deadlines & speakers updated. Submission deadline is on April 27th, notification on April 29th.


Dear readers of this blog — yes, both of you –: it’s that time of the year again. As tradition dictates, I’m organizing the Networks of Networks symposium, satellite event of the NetSci conference.

Networks of networks are structures in which the nodes may be connected through different relations. They can represent multifaceted social interaction, critical infrastructure and complex relational data structures. In the symposium, we are looking for a diversity of research contributions revolving around networks of networks of any kind: in social media, in infrastructure, in culture. The call for contributed talks is OPEN, and you can submit your abstract here:

The deadline for submissions is April 15th, 2016 April 27th, 2016, just a month from now. We will notify acceptance by April 22nd, 2016 April 29th, 2016.

Here’s my handy guide to few of the many reasons to come:

  • Networks of networks are awesome, a hot topic in network science and a lot of super smart people work on them. You wouldn’t pass the opportunity to mingle with them, would you?
  • We have a lineup of outstanding confirmed keynotes this year — truth to be told, we have that every year:
  • This year NetSci will take place at the K-Hotel, Seoul, Korea (South, whew…). You really should not miss this occasion to visit such fascinating place.

The Networks of Networks symposium will be held on May 31st, 2016. The full conference, including all satellites, runs from May 30th to June 3rd. You can find all relevant information for the conference in the official NetSci website. Our symposium has a website too: check it out. In it, you will find also the fundamental information about all the people organizing this event with me: without them none of this would be possible. Here they are:

And also a list of other people, helping with their ideas, time and enthusiasm:

  • Matteo Magnani
  • Ian Dobson
  • Luca Rossi
  • Leonardo Duenas-Osorio
  • Dino Pedreschi
  • Guido Caldarelli
  • Vito Latora

Hope to see many of you in Korea!

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10 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Collective Intelligence 2015 Report

As I wrote previously, this year I missed NetSci, the yearly appointment for everybody who is interested in network analysis. The reason is that I was invited to give a talk at the Collective Intelligence conference, which happened almost at the same time. And once I got an invitation from Lada Adamic, I knew I couldn’t say no to her. Look at the things she did and is doing: she is a superstar scientist! So I packed my bags and went to the West Coast.

The first day was immediately a blast. Jeff Howe chaired the first session with some great insights about crowdsourcing. As you know, crowdsourcing is a super hip thing nowadays. It goes like this: individually, each one of us is pretty terrible at solving a hard problem. But if we put together enough terrible people, the average of their errors cancels out and we get an almost perfect performance. The term itself crowdsourcing was basically invented by Jeff (and Mark Robinson) when he was writing for Wired. The speakers in Jeff’s session showed us some cool examples of crowdsourcing research. The one that stuck with me the most was from Ágnes Horvát: she and her co-authors were able to analyze the internal communications of a hedge fund about investments and use the features of this communication (frequency of messages, mood, etc) to predict how the investments would perform. And they got it right much more than the strategists at the hedge fund itself.


The second day started with the session with my talk in it. A talk about memes of course! The people I got lined up with were spectacular. Jacob Foster talked about the collective intelligence of science. How do scientists make sense of the incredible amount of research out there? And how is it possible to advance knowledge in such hard times, when there are tens of new studies published every day? Dean Eckles gave an insightful talk about how Facebook users react when their stories get “snoped” (Snopes is a website dedicated to debunk hoaxes). Finally, fellow Italian Walter Quattrociocchi also spoke about hoaxes on Facebook: how they spread, how conspiracy believers interact with skeptics, and so on.

In the next session I attended, I particularly liked two talks. First, Ben Green talked about collective intelligence, and what it actually is. It reminded me of community discovery in networks: scientists dove enthusiastically into it, producing hundreds of papers. However, many didn’t realize that “communities” (and “collective intelligence”) are not so easily defined. Green is trying to fix that. Richard Mann‘s talk was also very interesting: in his work with Dirk Helbing he designed incentive strategies for getting the best out of the wisdom of crowds.


The lunch keynote was from a superstar in collective intelligence: Regina Dugan. Just to give you an idea about her, her CV sports a position as program manager at DARPA and she currently is vice president of Engineering, Advanced Technology and Projects at Google. Not bad. She shared her experiences in directing and experiencing the process of doing cutting edge research. Her talk was a textbook example of motivational speaking for scientists and entrepreneurs alike.

Finally, I had the pleasure to attend a couple of talks about prediction markets. These communities are basically a stock market for opinions. Given an event, say the 2016 president elections, people can put money on their prediction of who is going to be the winner. Websites like SciCast put in place some rules about buying and selling opinion “stocks” and eventually the market price converges on people’s best estimate of every candidate’s odds to win. Prediction markets are a favorite of Nate Silver, and he talks quite a lot about them in “The Signal and the Noise”.


Unfortunately, my report of the conference ends abruptly here, as I had to miss the last day of conference. But the experience was well worth the trip, and I am very grateful for the invitation to Lada Adamic, Scott Page and Deborah Gordon. Unfortunately, this also means that I discovered a shiny event that overlaps with NetSci. Next year, I’ll have to face hard decisions when I allocate my conference time in early June.

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