How Insights from Archaeology Might Help Shape Our Future

Stanislaw Ulam Lecture Series: Seeing the Future in Our Past: Why Archaeology Matters Despite its popularity, archaeology’s public perception is not as accurate as it could be. Archaeologists do not have their collective heads immersed in the past, as is often supposed, but are very much concerned with...

City as a Startup

n 2011, Zappo's CEO Tony Hsieh announced a $350 million effort called The Downtown Project to rejuvenate Las Vegas' downtown, home to some lower-end casinos and motels and not a whole lot else. His plan is to spend much of his own personal fortune to transform this lifeless area about a mile north of...

Linguistic Divergence in Timor

The island of Timor, located in South East Asia, experienced a wave of migration from the neighboring islands several thousand years ago, resulting in its domination by the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages. The spread of these Languages and their relationships to each other remain...

The Evolutionary Origins of Developmental Programs

Organisms may exhibit stochastic variation in phenotypes as an evolved strategy to survive in fluctuating environments. These phenotypic variations can have different advantages in different environments; for example, a fast-growing antibiotic-sensitive type and a slow-growing antibiotic-resistant type...

Inferring Partial Interaction Matrices in Generalized Lotka-Volterra Models of Microbial Communities

Several recent attempts to model the dynamics of the human microbiome from metagenomic time series have relied on the standard ecological framework of generalized Lotka-Volterra equations. I demonstrate using simulated data that interaction matrices inferred for a subset of the community are not in general...

Analog Circuit Design using Genetic Algorithms

In the world of circuit design, genetic algorithms and other optimizers have been increasingly used over the past two decades. This research focuses on the use of GA’s in analog circuit design including varying mutation rates and matrix encoding. The computational expense is also extremely high for the...

Cost effectiveness of including a whole-cell Bordetella pertussis vaccine in current vaccination programs

Recent evidence suggests that the current acellular Bordetella pertussis vaccine (aP) protects against whooping cough disease, but not against secondary transmission of the B. pertussis bacterium. It is likely that the aP vaccine allows for asymptomatic B. pertussis infections, allowing people to unknowingly...

Kickstarting Memes and Movements: A Distribution-Based Threshold Model

The decisions of individual agents to participate in a social movement have collective effects. Each agent faces certain costs and benefits associated with their participation. When enough agents decide to participate, the movement is successful. However, these costs and benefits are not fixed. A movement...

Visualizing Frustration: Through the Spinning Glass

Mainstream spin-glass literature tends to be very graph and equation heavy, making these systems, to some, appear incomprehensible. However, these models of disordered magnetic moments continue to show up in complex system discussions as a potential key to understanding quantum computing, neural networks,...

Spectral community detection with the 'z-Laplacian'

Community detection is a fundamental problem in network science, with broad applications across the biological and social arenas. A common approach is to leverage the spectral properties of an operator related to the network (most commonly the adjacency matrix or graph Laplacian),though there are regimes...

The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math

Viewed through the right lens, the universal language of math connects to literature, philosophy, law, medicine, art, business, and even pop culture and current events. It underpins every aspect of our lives, from finding the perfect romantic partner to understanding how Google works. Yet few of us understand...

On Creating Built Environments that Promote Health and Sustainability

There is an increasing interest in tackling multiple social, health and environmental concerns in cities with a comprehensive and holistic approach, including a recent surge in interest in developing complex systems analysis of cities. Some of the greatest public health challenges in particular such...

Is Time Travel Possible? Testing the ‘Grandfather Paradox’

Time travel is a science fiction staple, inspiring the plots of countless books, movies and Star Trek episodes. But while basic physics allows for the possibility of moving through time, practical concerns like the “Grandfather Paradox,” in which a traveler jumps back in time, kills his grandfather and...

The Fabric of our Lives: Cities, Slums, Neighborhoods, People

What is a city, and what makes Chicago so different from Los Angeles? Luis Bettencourt peers inside the city, down to the data describing its neighborhoods and its people. He shows how a city is less a place than a fabric, weaved from the threads of the individual lives interacting within it – it is,...

Whiskey is for Drinking; Water is for Fighting Over

The phrase “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over,” often misattributed to Mark Twain, succinctly describes how water is thought about in the western United States. As urban populations grow, water managers are becoming increasingly concerned about water scarcity because their traditional...

The Biodistribution of Iron in the Metallome as Time's Arrow

The evolution of the biogeochemistry of iron through geological time is a useful example of the adaptation of single cell organisms to environmental change. Life has evolved such that iron is an essential nutrient for virtually every living cell. As the earth’s atmosphere changed from an anaerobic reducing...

The Big Research Questions for Today's Rapidly Changing Financial System

The dynamics of the world financial system today affect every aspect of human life in developed countries, and increasingly in developing countries as well. Stock prices today are an expression of economic, political, legal, social, and environmental factors more than in any time in history. The rapid...

Centralities, Communities and Operators: A Framework for Network Dynamics

In this talk, we highlight the interplay between a dynamic process and the structure of the network on which it is defined. Specifically, we examine the impact of this interaction on the quality-measure of network clusters and node centrality. This enables us to effectively identify network communities...

Fire on Landscapes and Middle-Number Systems: Complexity Writ Large?

Wildfire is nearly ubiquitous on landscapes of the western U.S., and in many other regions around the world. There are theoretical and practical reasons to understand fire’s influence, both in the short term (individual fires) and long term (fire “regimes” and how they affect landscape pattern and process)....

Is Free Will an Illusion? What Can Cognitive Science Tell Us?

Serious thinkers contend that free will cannot exist in a deterministic universe -- one in which events are the singular outcomes of the conditions in which they occur. The alternative view, that free will is prerequisite for personal responsibility and morality, is the basis of our legal and religious...