Abstract: Recent empirical work highlights the heterogeneity of social competitions such as political campaigns: proponents of some ideologies seek debate and conversation, others create echo chambers. While symmetric and static network structure is typically used as a substrate to study such competitor dynamics, network structure can instead be interpreted as a signature of the competitor strategies, yielding competition dynamics on adaptive networks. Here we demonstrate that tradeoffs between aggressiveness and defensiveness (i.e., targeting adversaries vs. targeting like-minded individuals) creates paradoxical behaviour such as non-transitive dynamics. And while there is an optimal strategy in a two competitor system, three competitor systems have no such solution; the introduction of extreme strategies can easily affect the outcome of a competition, even if the extreme strategies have no chance of winning. Not only are these results reminiscent of classic paradoxical results from evolutionary game theory, but the structure of social networks created by our model can be mapped to particular forms of payoff matrices. Consequently, social structure can act as a measurable metric for social games which in turn allows us to provide a game theoretical perspective on online political debates.
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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).