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Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vespignani invited to present complex networks seminar as part of Oxford seminar series

Feb. 17, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Rudy Professor of Informatics and Computing Alessandro Vespignani will take on the topic of multi-scale techno-social networks at Oxford University later this month as one of seven invited speakers to The James Martin 21st Century School Seminar Series on complexity and systemic risk.

Vespignani image

Photo by Chris Meyer

Indiana University Rudy Professor of Informatics and Computing Alessandro Vespignani has accepted an invitation from the University of Oxford's The James Martin 21st Century School to speak on the topic of "Predicting the Behavour of Techno-Social Systems."

Print-Quality Photo

Vespignani, also an adjunct professor of statistics and physics who serves as director of the School's Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) and associate director within the Pervasive Technology Institute, is the fifth of seven guest lecturers from around the world. He will speak on the topic, "Predicting the Behaviour of Techno-Social Systems: How Informatics and Computing Help to Fight Off Global Pandemics."

Felix Reed-Tsochas, convener of the series with the Complex Agent-Based Dynamic Networks (CABDyN) Complexity Centre, in association with Oxford's Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, said the latest edition of the prestigious annual seminar series asks leading researchers to explore the implications of a complex systems approach for systemic risks in ecosystems, financial systems, urban systems and human societies.

"Many of the systemic risks that we will need to address in the 21st century depend crucially on the often unanticipated consequences of interactions within and between different types of systems," he said. "The emerging, interdisciplinary field of complex systems provides a shared language as well as mathematical and computational models that can help us understand the challenges we face in this increasingly interconnected world."

Vespignani will speak Feb. 25 at The James Martin 21st Century School, University of Oxford, Old Indian Institute, Oxford. His lecture will be available as a podcast at:

During the lecture Vespignani said he hoped to use the example of the current H1N1 pandemic and present computing tools with the ambition of anticipating trends, evaluating risks and eventually managing future public policies in real time.

"We live in an increasingly interconnected world of "techno-social" systems, where infrastructures composed of different technological layers are interoperating within the social component that drives their use and development," he said. "The multi-scale nature and complexity of these networks are crucial features in understanding and managing them. In the last decade advances in performance in computer technology, data acquisition and complex networks theory allow the generation of sophisticated simulations on supercomputer infrastructures to anticipate the spreading pattern of a pandemic, predict the traffic pattern of successful Web sites or provides insight and recommendations in the case of natural or intentional disruptive events."

Before joining Indiana University, Vespignani has been a faculty of the Laboratoire de Physique Theorique at the University of Paris-Sud working for the French National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS), of which he is still member at large. Vespignani is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society and serves in board/leadership role on a variety of professional associations and journals.