Entropy and the Predictability of Online Life
Using mobile phone records and information theory measures, our daily lives have been recently shown to follow strict statistical regularities, and our movement patterns are, to a large extent, predictable. Here, we apply entropy and predictability measures to two datasets of the behavioral actions and the mobility of a large number of players in the virtual universe of a massive multiplayer online game. We find that movements in virtual human lives follow the same high levels of predictability as offline mobility, where future movements can, to some extent, be predicted well if the temporal correlations of visited places are accounted for. Time series of behavioral actions show similar high levels of predictability, even when temporal correlations are neglected. Entropy conditional on specific behavioral actions reveals that in terms of predictability, negative behavior has a wider variety than positive actions. The actions that contain the information to best predict an individualÿÿs subsequent action are negative, such as attacks or enemy markings, while the positive actions of friendship marking, trade and communication contain the least amount of predictive information. These observations show that predicting behavioral actions requires less information than predicting the mobility patterns of humans for which the additional knowledge of past visited locations is crucial and that the type and sign of a social relation has an essential impact on the ability to determine future behavior.
From mobile phone data to the spatial structure of cities
Pervasive infrastructures, such as cell phone networks, enable to capture large amounts of human behavioral data but also provide information about the structure of cities and their dynamical properties. In this article, we focus on these last aspects by studying phone data recorded during 55 days in 31 Spanish metropolitan areas. We first define an urban dilatation index which measures how the average distance between individuals evolves during the day, allowing us to highlight different types of city structure. We then focus on hotspots, the most crowded places in the city. We propose a parameter free method to detect them and to test the robustness of our results. The number of these hotspots scales sublinearly with the population size, a result in agreement with previous theoretical arguments and measures on employment datasets. We study the lifetime of these hotspots and show in particular that the hierarchy of permanent ones, which constitute the “heart” of the city, is very stable whatever the size of the city. The spatial structure of these hotspots is also of interest and allows us to distinguish different categories of cities, from monocentric and “segregated” where the spatial distribution is very dependent on land use, to polycentric where the spatial mixing between land uses is much more important. These results point towards the possibility of a new, quantitative classification of cities using high resolution spatio-temporal data.
Localization and centrality in networks
Eigenvector centrality is a widely used measure of the importance of nodes in a network. Here we show that under common conditions the eigenvector centrality displays a localization transition that causes most of the weight of the centrality to concentrate on a small number of nodes in the network and renders the measure useless for most practical purposes. As a remedy, we propose an alternative centrality measure based on the non-backtracking matrix, which gives results closely similar to the standard eigenvector centrality in dense networks where the latter is well behaved, but avoids localization and gives useful results in regimes where the standard centrality fails.
Computational and Robotic Models of the Hierarchical Organization of Behavior (by Gianluca Baldassarre, Marco Mirolli)
Current robots and other artificial systems are typically able to accomplish only one single task. Overcoming this limitation requires the development of control architectures and learning algorithms that can support the acquisition and deployment of several different skills, which in turn seems to require a modular and hierarchical organization. In this way, different modules can acquire different skills without catastrophic interference, and higher-level components of the system can solve complex tasks by exploiting the skills encapsulated in the lower-level modules. While machine learning and robotics recognize the fundamental importance of the hierarchical organization of behavior for building robots that scale up to solve complex tasks, research in psychology and neuroscience shows increasing evidence that modularity and hierarchy are pivotal organization principles of behavior and of the brain. They might even lead to the cumulative acquisition of an ever-increasing number of skills, which seems to be a characteristic of mammals, and humans in particular.
This book is a comprehensive overview of the state of the art on the modeling of the hierarchical organization of behavior in animals, and on its exploitation in robot controllers. The book perspective is highly interdisciplinary, featuring models belonging to all relevant areas, including machine learning, robotics, neural networks, and computational modeling in psychology and neuroscience. The book chapters review the authors’ most recent contributions to the investigation of hierarchical behavior, and highlight the open questions and most promising research directions. As the contributing authors are among the pioneers carrying out fundamental work on this topic, the book covers the most important and topical issues in the field from a computationally informed, theoretically oriented perspective. The book will be of benefit to academic and industrial researchers and graduate students in related disciplines.
Perspectives on Organisms: Biological time, Symmetries and Singularities
This authored monograph introduces a genuinely theoretical approach to biology. Starting point is the investigation of empirical biological scaling including their variability, which is found in the literature, e.g. allometric relationships, fractals, etc. The book then analyzes two different aspects of biological time: first, a supplementary temporal dimension to accommodate proper biological rhythms; secondly, the concepts of protension and retention as a means of local organization of time in living organisms. Moreover, the book investigates the role of symmetry in biology, in view of its ubiquitous importance in physics. In relation with the notion of extended critical transitions, the book proposes that organisms and their evolution can be characterized by continued symmetry changes, which accounts for the irreducibility of their historicity and variability. The authors also introduce the concept of anti-entropy as a measure for the potential of variability, being equally understood as alterations in symmetry. By this, the book provides a mathematical account of Gould’s analysis of phenotypic complexity with respect to biological evolution. The target audience primarily comprises researchers interested in new theoretical approaches to biology, from physical, biological or philosophical backgrounds, but the book may also be beneficial for graduate students who want to enter this field.
Nonlinear Dynamics and Complexity
This important collection presents recent advances in nonlinear dynamics including analytical solutions, chaos in Hamiltonian systems, time-delay, uncertainty, and bio-network dynamics. Nonlinear Dynamics and Complexity equips readers to appreciate this increasingly main-stream approach to understanding complex phenomena in nonlinear systems as they are examined in a broad array of disciplines. The book facilitates a better understanding of the mechanisms and phenomena in nonlinear dynamics and develops the corresponding mathematical theory to apply nonlinear design to practical engineering.
Who is Dating Whom: Characterizing User Behaviors of a Large Online Dating Site
Online dating sites have become popular platforms for people to look for potential romantic partners. It is important to understand users’ dating preferences in order to make better recommendations on potential dates. The message sending and replying actions of a user are strong indicators for what he/she is looking for in a potential date and reflect the user’s actual dating preferences. We study how users’ online dating behaviors correlate with various user attributes using a large real-world dateset from a major online dating site in China. Many of our results on user messaging behavior align with notions in social and evolutionary psychology: males tend to look for younger females while females put more emphasis on the socioeconomic status (e.g., income, education level) of a potential date. In addition, we observe that the geographic distance between two users and the photo count of users play an important role in their dating behaviors. Our results show that it is important to differentiate between users’ true preferences and random selection. Some user behaviors in choosing attributes in a potential date may largely be a result of random selection. We also find that both males and females are more likely to reply to users whose attributes come closest to the stated preferences of the receivers, and there is significant discrepancy between a user’s stated dating preference and his/her actual online dating behavior. These results can provide valuable guidelines to the design of a recommendation engine for potential dates.
Francis Heylighen: Return to Eden? (…) on the Road to an Omnipotent Global Intelligence
The concept of Singularity envisages a technology-driven explosion in intelligence. I argue that the resulting suprahuman intelligence will not be centralized in a single AI system, but distributed across all people and artifacts, as connected via the Internet. This global brain will function to tackle all challenges confronting the “global superorganism”. Its capabilities will extend so far beyond our present abilities that they may be best conveyed as a pragmatic version of the “divine” attributes: omniscience (knowing everything needed to solve our problems), omnipresence (being available anywhere anytime), omnipotence (being able to provide any product or service at negligible cost) and omnibenevolence (aiming at the greatest happiness for the greatest number). By extrapolating present trends, technologies and evolutionary mechanisms, I argue that these abilities are likely to be realized within the next few decades. The resulting solution to all our individual and societal problems can be seen as a return to “Eden”, the idyllic state of abundance and peace that supposedly existed before civilization. In this utopian society, individuals would be supported and challenged by the global brain to maximally develop their abilities, and to continuously create new knowledge. However, side effects of technological innovation are likely to create serious disturbances on the road to this utopia. The most important dangers are cascading failures facilitated by hyperconnectivity, the spread of psychological parasites that make people lose touch with reality, the loss of human abilities caused by an unnatural, passive lifestyle, and a conservative backlash triggered by too rapid changes. Because of the non-linearity of the system, the precise impact of such disturbances cannot be predicted. However, a range of precautionary measures, including a “global immune system”, may pre-empt the greatest risks.
Twitter Trends Help Researchers Forecast Viral Memes
What makes a meme an idea, a phrase, an image go viral? For starters, the meme must have broad appeal, so it can spread not just within communities of like-minded individuals but can leap from one community to the next. Researchers, by mining public Twitter data, have found that a meme’s virality is often evident from the start. After only a few dozen tweets, a typical viral meme (as defined by tweets using a given hashtag) will already have caught on in numerous communities of Twitter users. In contrast, a meme destined to peter out will resonate in fewer groups.
Complexity Studies in Economics, a new course on the éToile Platform
This course is anchored on the seven main sections associated with the key Economics areas where the complex systems studies approach to economy has been known to have important influence. These sections are: Section I: A Philosophical and Methodological approach to Economy using Complexity Sciences; Section II: The structure of interaction; Section III: Macroeconomics and Growth; Section IV: Financial Markets; Section V: International and Monetary Economy Dynamics; Section VI: Regional Economic Systems; Section VII: Evolutionary Economic Dynamics. Other than discussing the literature, the students will be invited to model, implement and discuss some of the underlying mentioned models using social simulation programming libraries.
To Each According to its Degree: The Meritocracy and Topocracy of Embedded Markets
A system is said to be meritocratic if the compensation and power available to individuals is determined by their abilities and merits. A system is topocratic if the compensation and power available to an individual is determined primarily by her position in a network. Here we introduce a model that is perfectly meritocratic for fully connected networks but that becomes topocratic for sparse networks-like the ones in society. In the model, individuals produce and sell content, but also distribute the content produced by others when they belong to the shortest path connecting a buyer and a seller. The production and distribution of content defines two channels of compensation: a meritocratic channel, where individuals are compensated for the content they produce, and a topocratic channel, where individual compensation is based on the number of shortest paths that go through them in the network. We solve the model analytically and show that the distribution of payoffs is meritocratic only if the average degree of the nodes is larger than a root of the total number of nodes. We conclude that, in the light of this model, the sparsity and structure of networks represents a fundamental constraint to the meritocracy of societies.
How Can the Study of Complexity Transform Our Understanding of the World?
The study of complexity refers to the attempt to find common principles underlying the behavior of complex systems, systems in which large collections of components interact in nonlinear ways. Here, the term nonlinear implies that the system can’t be understood simply by understanding its individual components; nonlinear interactions cause the whole to be more than the sum of its parts.
Learn about the latest and greatest related to complex systems research.
– Gottfried Mayer, Founding Editor
– Carlos Gershenson, Editor-in-Chief