Complex Networks, 4-8 June, 2012

The Aalto Complex Network Factory has been held at the Sannäs Manor, a conference center near Porvoo, a lovely medieval town situated on the southern coast of Finland, approximately 60 kilometres east of Helsinki. It has gathered a crowd of about 50 people, representing over 20 countries of Europe, Asia, North and South America.  

The venue was focused on the exponentially growing field of complex networks. Networks are everywhere, and representing complex systems as graphs has led to many insights both on the structure of the systems and on the dynamics of processes unfolding on them. Nowadays we can say that we have reached a better understanding of the Internet, the World Wide Web and of many social and biological systems through network theory. This field is data-driven, open to the contributions of many different research areas, and still growing at a fast pace.

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Prof. Janos Kertész (CEU Budapest and Aalto University) explains the complexity of human dynamics revealed by mobile communication networks

The event was divided in two main parts: in the first three days (June 4-6) there was a school with four distinguished experts in network science giving lectures about promising research directions of the present and the future:  temporal networks [Alain Barrat (Marseille), Janos Kertész (Budapest), Esteban Moro (Madrid)] and dynamic processes on networks [Albert Díaz-Guilera (Barcelona)].

The school also hosted presentations by two special guests: Frank Schweitzer, from ETH Zürich, who spoke about recent work attempting to quantify emotional influence; Tuomas Rinta, from Applifier, who presented the challenges offered by the market of online games and stimulated a lively discussion on how network science could help the industry in providing new tools to predict the dynamics of game users.

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Tuomas Rinta (Applifier, Finland) tells us about the potential links between network science and the online game industry.

The second part of the event hosted a workshop, where eight invited speakers, all well known in the field of network science, opened each a session with their talks, followed by presentations of the junior participants of the Factory. For the workshop we had not expressed topical preferences, so the presentations covered various aspects of network science. These included spreading phenomena [José Fernando Mendes (Aveiro), Claudio Castellano (Rome), Luis Rocha (Catholic University of Louvain), Michael Maragakis (Thessaloniki)], community structure [Martin Rosvall (Umeå), Vincent Blondel (Catholic University of Louvain), Artemy Kolchinsky (Indiana University Bloomington), Michael Schaub (Imperial College), Renaud Lambiotte (Namur), Rémy Cazabet (Toulouse)], human dynamics [Marton Karsai (Aalto), Hang-Hyun Jo (Aalto), Jan Haerter (Niels Bohr Institute), Taha Yasseri (Budapest), Arnau Gavalda (Tarragona), Lauri Kovanen (Aalto)], opinion dynamics [Gerardo Iñiguez (Aalto), Yerali Gandica (Coimbra)], citation networks [Raj Kumar Pan (Aalto), Atieh Mirshahvalad (Umeå)], relationships between complex networks and hidden metric spaces [Mariangeles Serrano (Barcelona)],  sandpile models on networks [Pierre-André Noël (UC Davis)], random walks [Michele Starnini (Barcelona), Jeremi Ochab (Jagellonian University Krakow)], criminal networks [Fredrik Liljeros (Stockholm)], collective computation [Luis Rocha (Indiana University Bloomington)]. The slides of all presentations can be downloaded in pdf format from the Programme section of the Factory’s Website.

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Prof. Vincent Blondel (Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium) describes the Louvain method, a popular technique to detect clusters in large networks.

On Thursday afternoon, june the 7th, we have organized a trip to Porvoo, which took place under very pleasant weather conditions. In the evenings ball and board games contributed to get the participants acquainted with each other. We know that some of these interactions have already disclosed collaboration and job opportunities to some of the junior participants.

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Junior participants indicating the future direction of network science during the social excursion to Porvoo.

Overall, the Factory was a big success, we got a lot of positive feedback both during and after the event. The contribution from the Aalto Science Institute was crucial to provide the necessary resources. The event was also supported by the Nordic Network of Network Scientists and by ICTeCollective, grant number 238597 of the European Commission under the FET Open funding scheme.

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New promising collaborations stimulated by social drinking in Porvoo.

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