Author Archives: misz

NERDS/CSH-organized workshop on sustainable mobility in Vienna

Last week we, Michael Szell and Anastassia Vybornova, together with Rafael Prieto Curiel from Complexity Science Hub Vienna, held a workshop on sustainable mobility in Vienna, Austria, featuring some of the top local experts on the topic: Vienna’s cycling coordinator Martin Blum, and the researchers Anita Graser, Barbara Laa, Ulrich Leth.

The event featured 7 talks (2 from NERDS) and many thought-provoking discussions, see a nice summary here:

The workshop covered the following aspects:

Why are politicians so reluctant to invest into bicycle infrastructure and pedestrianization given it is the most efficient investment towards sustainable and livable cities? What are the technical and political bottlenecks that keep society in the stranglehold of car dependency, and what are the implications of sustained delay? Which data are we missing, how should we grow network infrastructure, and how to speed up the sluggish political process? The climate crisis demands pressing answers, which we explore here with state-of-the-art insights in Data/Network/Complexity Science and Urban Planning.

This workshop brings together researchers and policymakers from Vienna and Copenhagen who work on understanding the best pathways towards sustainable mobility with focus on cycling, or who are developing tools/methods supporting that aim. Our speakers will cover: Mobility and infrastructure data quality, bicycle network planning, politics & activism, systemic complexity approaches.

New NERDS paper: Quantifying Ideological Polarization on a Network

Today we published a paper on ideological polarization. Special congrats to Marilena for this being her first paper!

Quantifying Ideological Polarization on a Network Using Generalized Euclidean Distance, by M. Hohmann, K. Devriendt, M. Coscia, published in Science Advances

An intensely debated topic is whether political polarization on social media is on the rise. We can investigate this question only if we can quantify polarization, by taking into account how extreme the opinions of the people are, how much they organize into echo chambers, and how these echo chambers organize in the network. Current polarization estimates are insensitive to at least one of these factors: they cannot conclusively clarify the opening question. Here, we propose a measure of ideological polarization which can capture the factors we listed. The measure is based on the Generalized Euclidean (GE) distance, which estimates the distance between two vectors on a network, e.g., representing people’s opinion. This measure can fill the methodological gap left by the state of the art, and leads to useful insights when applied to real-world debates happening on social media and to data from the US Congress.

NERDS growth in 2023

Happy new year! We are excited to report many new faces at NERDS, on one hand due to an increased number of interns joining, and on the other hand through Luca’s Carlsberg grant which now starts to kick in.

With Jan 1st, joining us is the new long-term member Arianna Pera as PhD student, who recently got her master degree at Universita Bicocca in Italy. She will work in the area of computational social science, and especially with topics related to coordination. At the same time, we have postdoc Alessia Antelmi from University of Salerno in Italy. She will be with us for 6 months working on higher-order interactions applied to online conversations. Further, Lucio La Cava is a PhD student at the University of Calabria in Italy. He will visit us for three months, working at the intersection of collective coordination and Web3. A future PhD student will be Anders Giovanni Møller, who is currently still a Masterstudent here at ITU. He will start his PhD with us in June but he is already around before then. His main focus is NLP and he will work at the intersection of NLP and social network analysis. Apart from this new batch of 2023 people, we have two more master student interns, Henrik Wolf and Carlson Büth, who are visiting us since fall from Germany, Dresden and Münster, respectively.

All of these excellent new people bring more life to our group – they also have almost filled up all our tables in our large 3F29 section and we might need to look for new space soon. We are happy about all the buzz and intellectual cross-pollination going on!

Our interns are happy and becoming numerous due to our group’s and university’s efforts to be welcoming to visitors. To quote our Positions page:

We are very open to welcome self-funded research visitors if the topic of collaboration makes sense – for such inquiries please contact us via email. If you need funding let us know too: There might be / we might know of possibilities of third-party or internal funding.

Stonks 📈

New NERDS paper: Computational Desire Line Analysis of Cyclists

We published another urban planning paper:

  1. Computational Desire Line Analysis of Cyclists on the Dybbølsbro Intersection in Copenhagen, by S.M. Breum, B. Kostic, and M. Szell, published in Transport Findings

    To improve intersection planning, here we develop a computational method to detect cyclist trajectories from video recordings and apply it to the Dybbølsbro intersection in Copenhagen, Denmark. In one hour of footage we find hundreds of trajectories that contradict the design, explainable by the desire for straightforward, uninterrupted travel largely not provided by the intersection. This neglect and the prioritization of vehicular traffic highlight opportunities for improving Danish intersection design.

DataBeers Copenhagen is back!

Copenhagen’s third DataBeers edition was held this wednesday, more than 3(!) years after the first two editions before COVID-19. The event was once again a smashing success, with around 90 participants, 5 excellent speakers from academia and industry, one surprise data rapper, and a large number of hoppy beverages consumed.

Huge thanks to the wonderful new team of DataBeersCPH organizers, including  Silvia de Sojo Caso, Jonas Juul, NERDS-member Sandro Sousa, and many more! Their hard work paid off – the location and vibe were absolutely amazing.

DataBeers is a global not-for-profit initiative (currently in 31+ cities), that brings data scientists and data enthusiasts from industry, government, academia and the arts to knowledge share. The DataBeers teams organise events and invite speakers to tell their experience with data: analysis, visualisations, applied data, data journalism etc., always in an informal and agile manner.

This last Copenhagen edition was sponsored by ITU and DTU. We are always happy about sponsors, especially for beer – talk to us at
The next DataBeers Copenhagen is scheduled for Spring 2023. Follow us at @databeers_cph for updates. Stay tuned, and cheers! 🍻

Social media updates: 1000 Twitter followers and Mastodon account

We have reached 1000 Twitter followers, around 3.5 years after having created our profile at: 🐦

To celebrate, we have also created a Mastodon account: 🐘 
For now we are cross-posting between Twitter and Mastodon (and aim to be reactive in both environments), so no matter where you follow us you will receive the same info and be able to stay in touch.

If you like our research, or are interested in our events, job opportunities, or news, make sure to follow us. Happy tweeting/tooting!  

NERDS migration: CRBAM 2022, DS’2022, WiNS, Complex Networks 2022, CCS 2022

It is conference season, where NERDS are known to travel to southern wintering grounds to catch some rays of sun and to mingle with NERDS of a feather. Our regular seasonal movements will bring us to several places this year:

  • CRBAM 2022: Ane and Anastassia will present their research on bicycle networks/data at the 6th Annual Meeting of the Cycling Research Board in Amsterdam tomorrow, Oct 6
  • DS’2022: Luca will give a keynote at the International Conference on Discovery Science 2022 in Montpellier on Oct 11 on Coloring Social Relationships
  • WiNS: Roberta will talk about her Pathways in Network Science at the Women in Network Science Seminar on Oct 18
  • Complex Networks 2022: Michele will hold a tutorial on Node Vector Distances, and Marilena will talk about Estimating Affective Polarization on a Social Network, on Nov 7-8 in Palermo

Finally, you will also be able to catch Sandro at CCS 2022 (Conference on Complex Systems), who will represent us in Mallorca from Oct 17-21.

Be sure to check out our event calendar to be up to date on our travel / talk patterns – see you around and safe travels!

New NERDS paper: Urban segregation and random walks

We have a new NERDS paper out by our Postdoc Sandro Sousa. This paper marks his main work from his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, published now:

  1. Quantifying ethnic segregation in cities through random walks by S. Sousa and V. Nicosia, published in Nature Communications

    We propose here a family of non-parametric measures for spatial distributions, based on the statistics of the trajectories of random walks on graphs associated to a spatial system. These quantities provide a consistent estimation of segregation in synthetic spatial patterns, and we use them to analyse the ethnic segregation of metropolitan areas in the US and the UK. We show that the spatial diversity of ethnic distributions, as measured through diffusion on graphs, allow us to compare the ethnic segregation of urban areas having different size, shape, or peculiar microscopic characteristics, and exhibits a strong association with socio-economic deprivation.

Roberta Sinatra becomes Full Professor at Copenhagen University (SODAS)

Today one of our group’s founders, Roberta Sinatra, became full professor, assuming a new position at the Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science (SODAS) at Copenhagen University (KU):

Congratulations to Roberta – very well deserved!

Having been promoted from assistant professor to associate professor just two years ago, Roberta’s new full professor position hallmarks a stellar career. At SODAS Roberta will be steering the center, head its new ethics committee, and be involved in the center’s new MSc programme in Social Data Science, among other things.

Roberta will have a new main workplace at KU’s city campus (Øster Farimagsgade 5), but luckily she will remain affiliated with us NERDS, so we will keep enjoying her expertise and occasional company in the future. To accommodate this change, Michael Szell will take over her role of group coordinator.

We congratulate Roberta and look forward to many fruitful collaborations with KU!