Abstract: Herbert Simon's classic rich-gets-richer model is one of the simplest empirically supported mechanisms capable of generating heavy-tail size distributions for complex systems. Simon argued analytically that a population of flavored elements growing by either adding a novel element or randomly replicating an existing one would afford a distribution of group sizes with a power-law tail. Here, we show that, in fact, Simon's model does not produce a simple power law size distribution as the initial element has a dominant first-mover advantage, and will be overrepresented by a factor proportional to the inverse of the innovation probability. The first group's size discrepancy cannot be explained away as a transient of the model, and may therefore be many orders of magnitude greater than expected. We demonstrate how Simon's analysis was correct but incomplete, and expand our alternate analysis to quantify the variability of long term rankings for all groups. We find that the expected time for a first replication is infinite, and show how an incipient group must break the mechanism to improve their odds of success. Our findings call for a reexamination of preceding work invoking Simon's model and provide a revised understanding going forward.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).