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In this seminar we will bring together researchers from the social sciences, the economic sciences, mathematics and computer sciences working on networks, in order to discuss how mathematical tools can be used in applied network science.

Event details of Networks seminar (on-site)
Date 25 March 2022
Time 14:00 -18:00
Organised by Michel Mandjes (University of Amsterdam) , Ines Lindner (VU Amsterdam) , Frank den Hollander (Leiden University)

In this event series, social scientists and economic scientists are invited to describe the modelling challenges they face in their research, and mathematicians and computer scientists are invited to reflect on these challenges by describing modelling techniques.

Speakers 25.03: Saeed Badri and Mike Lees.

Talk 1: Social Networks and Bots from a System Perspective
Saeed Badri (presenter), Bernd Heidergott, Ines Lindner
VU University Amsterdam and Tinbergen Amsterdam

We study how the presence of bots affects the degree of misinformation and polarization in society. We study learning and opinion formation in a classical setting where agents naïvely update beliefs by repeatedly taking weighted averages of neighbors’ opinions in a social network. In particular, we analyze how bots challenge the phenomenon of the wisdom of crowds. The latter describes the empirical observation that – in absence of bots - aggregation of information in groups often results in decisions that are better than could have been made by any single member of the group. Our goal is to identify and measure the impact of bots as an obstacle to wisdom. In particular, we will identify the nature of this impact as a singularity of the ergodic projector of a Markov process. We will show how to measure this impact despite the analytical complexity of opinion formation in networks.

Talk 2: Computational Models to understand School Segregation: the role of social networks in parents and children
Mike Lees

The issue of segregation in education can be (and has been) examined from both the individual level (e.g., parent surveys, choice analysis, etc.) or from macro-level statistics (e.g., changes in segregation level, region, city or national level). The uniqueness of a complexity science approach is the ability to connect these two levels and perhaps demonstrate that seemingly innocuous changes in individual behaviour or societal context can lead to drastic change in macro level dynamics. In the compass project, working with the inspectorate of education and the city of Amsterdam, we are developing agent-based models to analyse the process of school segregation. In this talk I will describe our approach to understanding segregation and explain how social networks play a fundamental role, both in terms of parental choice and in terms of the friendships established within the classroom. I will demonstrate a model of network construction that can be used to understand the complex relationship between segregation at a school level and segregation within the classroom.

About the Networks event series

Early 2020 a Networks matchmaking event took place in conference center Kaap Doorn in Doorn. This event brought together researchers from the social sciences, the economic sciences, mathematics and computer science working on networks, in order to explore opportunities to create synergy. Since then, in a series of seminars, these researchers have continued to come together. On March 25th the next edition of this seminar will be held at the UvA Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Amsterdam. 

The networks seminar series is an initiative of the NETWORKS gravitation programme, together with Ines Lindner and with contributions from the gravitation programme SCOOP.