How to track important changes in a dynamic network

Networks can represent changing systems, like the spread of an epidemic or the growth of groups in a population of people. But the structure of these networks can change, too, as links appear or vanish over time. In a new paper, a trio of SFI-affiliated researchers describe a novel way to aggregate static snapshots into smaller clusters of networks while still preserving the dynamic nature of the system.

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New gifts support SFI Education and Postdoctoral programs

In the first major gifts of 2024, and as part of SFI’s 40th Anniversary, the McKinnon Family Foundation and the Darla Moore Foundation have collectively pledged $750K each year for the next five years to support SFI’s education and early-career researcher programs. The gifts will ensure the financial stability of SFI’s Omidyar Fellowship, summer Undergraduate Complexity Research program, and its flagship Complex Systems Summer School. 

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Sam Bowles named IEA Fellow

SFI Professor Samuel Bowles was recently recognized as a Fellow of the International Economics Association in recognition of "excellence in economic research, research-driven popular writing, and economic policymaking.” 

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Modeling the UN’s biodiversity goals

In 2015, the United Nations published its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, setting aspirational and interconnected targets for economic, environmental, and health well-being, but we're falling woefully short of those targets. Of particular concern to a pair of SFI External Professors are the biodiversity goals. In a February working group, researchers will explore the probabilities and consequences of falling short of the U.N. goals. 

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How a city is organized can create less-biased citizens

A new study in Nature Communications presents data and a mathematical model to explain why there is more unconscious, or implicit, racial bias in some cities than others. The study, which brings together the math of cities with the psychology of how individuals develop unconscious racial biases, suggests that a city's level of implicit bias depends on how populous, diverse, and segregated that city is.

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Research News Brief: Predicting human lives via sequences of life events

The AI that can write sentences or compose news articles can also accurately predict the unfolding of individual human lives. A new tool called life2vec can predict outcomes, including early death, by leveraging similarities between how sequences of events progress in human lives and sequences of words progress in language, according to a recent study in Nature.

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Study: Plant groupings in drylands support ecosystem resilience

Many complex systems, from microbial communities to mussel beds to drylands, display striking self-organized clusters. According to theoretical models, these groupings play an important role in how an ecosystem works and its ability to respond to environmental changes. A new paper in PNAS focused on the spatial patterns found in drylands offers important empirical evidence validating the models.

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In memoriam: William Sick

William (Bill) Sick, who served for nearly two decades on SFI’s Board of Trustees, passed away on December 8, 2023. He was 88 years old.

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The new science of waste

Waste is a natural by-product of productive human economies and a problem that plagues human systems. In a new paper, Mingzhen Lu and Chris Kempes explore how three types of waste production — municipal solid waste, wastewater, and greenhouse gas emissions — scale with city size. 

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Physicists identify overlooked uncertainty in real-world experiments

The rules of statistical physics address the uncertainty about the state of a system that arises when that system interacts with its environment. But they’ve long missed another kind. In a new paper published in Physical Review Research, David Wolpert and Jan Korbel argue that uncertainty in the thermodynamic parameters themselves — built into equations that govern the energetic behavior of the system — may also influence the outcome of an experiment.

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In memoriam: Erica Jen

Erica Jen, former SFI Vice President for Academic Affairs, passed away on November 12, 2023, at the age of 71. A mathematician by training, Jen was held in high esteem by all who knew her for her ability to bring together people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

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Study: How to optimize EV charging locations

As consumer interest in electric vehicles rises, the lack of charging stations is a continuing concern to potential customers. A recent paper in PNAS Nexus provides a possible road map for how to optimize the locations for new EV infrastructure.

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Study: Harsh workplace conditions are pushing women out of academia

This fall, a paper co-authored by several SFI researchers presented a comprehensive analysis of gender and retention patterns across the U.S. university system, exploring why women faculty members are more likely than men to leave their jobs and are less likely to be promoted at every career age and stage.

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