Research 

Andrea Baronchelli                                                                     back to the homepage

How does social consensus emerge in the absence of a central authority? How does cognition influence cultural evolution? Are there simple principles behind the seemingly complex collective dynamics we see around us? 


These are some of the questions I am interested in. Also thanks to fortunate collaborations with friends and colleagues in social, behavioural and cognitive sciences I have addressed them in (what I believe is) an interdisciplinary way using concepts and tools from Statistical Physics together with mathematical modelling, data science approaches and experimental work. At a more fundamental level, I investigate the properties of complex networks and how they affect the dynamical processes taking place upon them.

Below you can find some of the projects that have kept me busy lately (for a full list of papers please click here). Results from a couple more projects will be added soon.



The Emergence and Dynamics of Social Conventions

Most of our life, from language to economics, is ruled by social conventions. I have looked at how conventions emerge and evolve with the Naming Game model (JSTAT 2006 and many others), and lately using a data science approach (ICWSM 2013). Recently, we have run experiments to test the hypothesis of the spontaneous emergence of conventions (PNAS 2015). The experiment results are well explained by the Naming Game model (click here for a summary of the most important model results) we introduced in JSTAT 2006 and many others#modelling #data_science #experiments


Mapping Human Mental Searches 

How do we mentally search metric spaces, such as the 1-d line of integers? Analysing data from online auctions, we showed that users do Lévy flights, like foraging animals in nature (PLOS ONE 2012PRE 2013). My goal is now to develop experiments to investigate human mental exploration more deeply. #data_science #modelling (#experiments coming soon, hopefully!)


Data Science and Societal Trends

 Analysing Twitter data, we showed that geotagging techniques allow to accurately map world languages (PLOS ONE 2013), and user activity on Twitter allows to anticipate the result of massively popular TV shows such as American Idol (EPJ Data Science 2012). Further studies will concern individual behavioural patterns. #data_science


The Cultural Origin of Human Categories

Categories are fundamental for our understanding of the world. How do categories emerge? And how do we keep our categories aligned through language? We have looked at this issue through a computational model that reproduces empirical data on colour naming patterns (PNAS 2008 and PNAS_2010), and clarifies how culture and biology shape our categories (preprint 2014). #modelling #data_science


Modelling Face-To-Face Contact Networks

How do we behave in social gatherings? Recent data have shown universal, context-independent, patterns. We proposed a very simple model that reproduces most of the empirical observations (PRL 2013). We are currently extending our analysis to more and more datasets. #modelling #data_science


Network Science and Dynamical Processes on Networks

I have studied simple dynamics on networks for a long time, ranging from spreading phenomena (random walks, epidemics, etc) to opinion dynamics models (voter, Moran, Naming Game, etc). Recently, I have been focusing on the structure and impact of time-varying networks (eg PRL 2012PRL 2013). #modelling







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