Taming Complexity: Controlling Networks

Speaker: Prof. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
Affiliation: Northeastern University

Abstract: The ultimate proof of our understanding of biological or technological systems is reflected in our ability to control them. While control theory offers mathematical tools to steer engineered and natural systems towards a desired state, we lack a framework to control complex self-organized systems. Here we explore the controllability of an arbitrary complex network, identifying the set of driver nodes whose time-dependent control can guide the system’s entire dynamics. We apply these tools to several real networks, finding that the number of driver nodes is determined mainly by the network’s degree distribution. We show that sparse inhomogeneous networks, which tend to be observed in most real systems, are the most difficult to control, but dense and homogeneous networks can be controlled via a few driver nodes. Overall issues related to control open a series of new fundamental questions pertaining to our understanding of complex systems.

Biography: Albert-László Barabási is the Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and a Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research, and holds appointments in the Departments of Physics and College of Computer and Information Science, as well as in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women Hospital in the Channing Division of Network Science, and is a member of the Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. A Hungarian born native of Transylvania, Romania, he received his Masters in Theoretical Physics at the Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary and was awarded a Ph.D. three years later at Boston University. Barabási’s latest book is “Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do” (Dutton, 2010) available in five languages. He has also authored “Linked: The New Science of Networks” (Perseus, 2002), currently available in eleven languages, and is the co-editor of “The Structure and Dynamics of Networks” (Princeton, 2005). His work led to the discovery of scale-free networks in 1999, and proposed the Barabási-Albert model to explain their widespread emergence in natural, technological and social systems, from the cellular telephone to the WWW or online communities.

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Date(s) - Feb 01, 2016
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

EE-IV Shannon Room #54-134
420 Westwood Plaza - 5th Flr., Los Angeles CA 90095