University of Vermont

Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Macmillan Speaker Series on Tuesday April 29

The University of Vermont Complex Systems Center is pleased to present, as part of the 2014 Macmillan Speaker Series, César A. Hidalgo, Media Lab, MIT and Neil Johnson, Physics, University of Miami.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Livak Ballroom, Davis Center, 4th Floor

"Complexity in High Definition" - César A. Hidalgo, PhD
The complexity of our world is often larger than what we can capture by our empirical methods and theories. To accomodate, we often oversimplify and accept working with measures that are clearly distortive. We abstract food as calories, confuse education with test scores, and reduce economies to their level of consumption. In this presentation I will look at complex systems in high definition and show that an increase in resolution can help uncover crucial aspects of important complex systems. First, I will show how economic development can be understood by looking at the evolution of the network connecting countries to the products they make, and how this network can be used to predict future exports as well as aggregate economic growth. Next, I will show how communication technologies have affected the historical dynamics of cultural production. Finally, I will show how this research is being communicated by the introduction of digital public goods, which are helping democratize our species' access to higher resolution views of our world.

Professor Hidalgo’s website:

"The Dark Side of the Net" - Neil Johnson, PhD
Even with 'big' data about a given social network, it is very hard to predict what behaviors might emerge in the future. However this problem becomes even more challenging for networks which are operating in some clandestine way. In this talk I analyze three complementary examples of such dark networks -- online activity surrounding the civil unrest 'Springs' in Latin America during 2013-2014, offline networks generating anti-government violence during the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland during the period 1970-1995, and the recent explosion in dark pools associated with high-speed financial trading. In each case, I examine the effect that operating in the dark seems to have on the network dynamics, and discuss consequences for the prediction of future behaviors in -- and threats from -- such systems.

Professor Johnson’s website:

For more information on the event:

Join us for these exciting talks.
Refreshments will be served