School and Workshop on Structure and Function of Complex Networks: fifth day

In the following some comments about the Program of the fifth day.
[some people asked me where they can find the slides, actually all of them should appear on the school page but at the moment only a few are there. I think/hope they will appear in the following days]

[The following comments are probably understandable/useful only to me, since they are quickly written and cover only the main concepts I wanted to carry away for sure from a lecture. I post them here anyway but you’ve be warned]

20 May 2005
This is a economical/social day. The lecturers are sociologists and economists. Cool! I like diversity of approaches, minds and terminology.

Social networks II
Indiana University, Bloomington, U.S.A.
Topics: subgroups, blockmodel.
How to computer social cohesion? Embeddedness (nested subgroups), find significan social subgroups.
n-clique: for every i,j, geodesic_distance(i,j)j means i put dollars in a tie with j. Studying the network we can ask ourself: should the government helps (for national economy) or not (for having a not-poisoned free market) the formation of such ties between local firms?
Recombinant dataset of research & development agreements.
Research and development ties: patent exchanges, joint ventures, …

Round table
There was an open discussion about the school, what was good, what was improuvable. And also about: what is this “network science”? which perspectives? which features? are we converging to something? It is, as this school demonstrates, a very interdisciplinary field: there are physicists, computer scientists, sociologists, economists, biologists, chemistrists, …
Laslo Barabasi claimed that many groups around the world want today to offer positions (phd, staff, courses, …) about this “network science” but the demand and offer are fragmented, he suggested the creation of a community place, maybe a site where submit/request positions [note: i suggest using (better) or for the site].
Other points: are we (in this networks science) asking new questions? Is it a new methodology (look at stuff as networks) or it is a new scientific discipline? Is it a new way of looking at old problems? Are we just a “service” for other disciplines (biology, computer science, …)?
Everyone is sharing the “bright future”: the expectation of having more and more positions about this, funds, projects, papers on journals, … I agree.
Barabasi pointed how that quantum physics was a mess in the beginning, when it was starting, that everyone was saying this is not correct, this is not science, whatever; he sees a similarity with this new emerging “network science”. There was a little and very interesting verbal discussion between Stan Wasserman who claimed that this is not a new science, that sociologists have been studying networks in the past 100 years and Barabasi that claimed that the new science was able to find the same pattern in all the networks (biological, internet, web, food, epidemiology, …) so this is something totally new. [I oversimplifies their positions of course]. Others stated that this is not an evolution of social network analysis: in fact the new science is about finding common properties in all these networks and that sociologists were surely not speaking to biologists suggesting to apply their tools in their networks before the emergence of this new science. Stan was the only sociologist and I think he brought his point but most of the people (want to) think this is a new field. I tend to agree.

PUBLIC LECTURE – The Architecture of Complexity: From the Cell to the World Wide Web
University of Notre Dame, Indiana, U.S.A.
This was an open lecture but there was much less people than the ones I was expecting: more or less the double of the normal quantity.
His talk was basic a summary of the achievements of the past 5 years in studying networks. He showed how across different disciplines networks exhibit same patterns (power law, …)
There will be a NRC (National Research Council) about “network science” who will define how to fund this science in the US, the country that leads research worldwide: if they decide to heavily support and push it, it will be great for all the people in the audience.
In fact there was a lot of expectation for a bright future in his talk and he concluded with a iper-motivational slide (motivational for students and researchers): “… we are still looking for the (…’s) Laws here”, where these dots could be one of you! Well, you could feel a lot of excitement in the audience.
Check (it will possibly become the community site he was referring to before).
An interesting question was “do you remember chaos theory and all the excitement that was around it some time ago? will network theory be the same?”

We had a buffet all together. It was a lot of fun. People present here are very pleasant. I spoke a lot with a cuban girl (at university of Havana). Now the question could be: I’m more interested in learning about Cuba or about networks? Well, not an hard question, no? ;)

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