Author Archives: misz

Funding for bicycle network analysis by the Danish Ministry of Transport

Today we received the happy news that the Danish Ministry of Transport is funding our project Netværksanalyse af den danske cykelinfrastruktur (“Network analysis of the Danish cycling infrastructure”): https://www.trm.dk/nyheder/2021/aftale-om-nye-cykelstier-i-alle-dele-af-landet/

This funding will allow us to hire cycling network and urban planning/spatial data expert Ane Rahbek Vierø for a 3-year PhD on the topic, to start Jan 2022, supervised by Michael Szell. Our bicycle network research so far has focused on urban bicycle networks, so this funding will finally allow us to widen our perspective to the regional and national scale. We are looking forward to welcoming Ane in January and to help improving the (already quite good but certainly not perfect) Danish bicycle network!

In more detail, our plans for this project are the following:

In this research project we will apply state of the art metrics and tools from network analysis on Danish open data bicycle infrastructure networks collected from e.g. OpenStreetMap, and additionally incorporate knowledge from cycling planners and mobility researchers, to develop a scientific, evidence-based framework to suggest where to add new network connections or other interventions for improving sustainable bicycle infrastructure. While there are generally good cycling conditions in Denmark, there are many areas that have a quite poor connectivity. Using access to everyday amenities as a baseline can also show that it is not enough to install bicycle lanes – they need to be in the right location and connect to the right places. This research will explore weighting the network according to different attributes to get a more detailed understanding of how connectivity and accessibility might vary for different types of cyclists (in line with Levels of Traffic Stress). We will also use this weighted network to examine cyclists’ access to everyday amenities and facilities, in order to, for example, identify areas where you cannot comfortably cycle to basic amenities (inspired by the 15-minute city). Further, we will explore the effect of high stress intersections on network connectivity for vulnerable road user demographics such as children, and incorporate the distribution of people and workplaces in the analysis. Finally, we aim to develop an interactive web mapping tool that visualizes the results and has the ability to run analyses based on individual demographic variables or preferences of cyclists.

Roberta Sinatra receives YSA award

Today Roberta Sinatra received the 2020 Young Scientist Award for Socio- and Econophysics!

The Young Scientist Award for Socio- and Econophysics is given once a year. It pursues the goal of promoting the work of young researchers and recognizing outstanding scientific contributions that use methods derived from physics to contribute to a better understanding of socio-economic problems.

The award committee has decided to award the prize shared to:

Dr. Roberta Sinatra,

for her outstanding contributions to understanding the social dynamics of science, human mobility and behaviour, on the grounds of network science and statistical physics methods,

AND

Dr. Manlio de Domenico,

for his outstanding and insightful work on multilayer networks and their applications to the field of socio-economic systems.

🎉We congratulate the two recipients! 🎉

Back from Department Retreat

We are back from our 2-day computer science department-wide retreat in Helsingør, the closest point to Sweden across the Øresund and the original location of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with over 100 good colleagues, where almost all NERDS finally met in person after a very long time of pandemic avoidance – thank you Denmark for handling this situation so well! 🇩🇰

We had a lot of fun and enjoyed our time together, creating new links between us and others in the department. We are also happy to have spent time and got to know better one of our next members who will join the group in October. Here a few impressions from our trip, which felt a bit like going on a school trip after an unbearably long 2+ year absence of not seeing each other:

Two NERDS summer papers: Streetonomics and COVID Twitter psychology

Prolific NERDS researcher Luca Maria Aiello published 2 more papers over the summer. They already received wide media coverage:

  1. Streetonomics: Quantifying culture using street names, by M. Bancilhon, M. Constantinides , E.P. Bogucka, L.M. Aiello, D. Quercia, published in PLOS ONE

    This paper studies the names of 4,932 honorific streets in the cities of Paris, Vienna, London and New York, finding that street names greatly reflect the extent to which a society is gender biased, which professions are considered elite ones, and the extent to which a city is influenced by the rest of the world, quantifying a society’s value system.

    The paper was covered in media here:
    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210712-streetonomics-what-our-addresses-say-about-us
    https://www.fastcompany.com/90652762/how-streets-in-new-york-london-paris-and-vienna-got-their-names-according-to-streetonomics
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/street-names-show-why-great-cities-are-worlds-apart-x06lbdwgj
    https://elpais.com/ciencia/2021-06-30/el-machismo-esta-en-las-calles.html
    https://www.lefigaro.fr/sciences/l-ame-d-une-ville-peut-elle-se-lire-dans-les-noms-de-ses-rues-20210701

  2. How epidemic psychology works on Twitter: evolution of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., by L.M. Aiello, D. Quercia, K. Zhou, M. Constantinides, S. Šćepanović, S. Joglekar, published in Humanities and Social Sciences Communications

    The paper studies the use of language of 122M tweets related to the COVID-19 pandemic posted in the U.S. during the whole year of 2020. On Twitter, we identified three distinct phases. Each of them is characterized by different regimes of the three psycho-social epidemics.
    See also: https://www.fastcompany.com/90659372/pandemic-emotions-research-twitter

Release of GrowBike.Net to explore growing urban bicycle networks

Recently we released GrowBike.Net, accompanying our preprint “Growing Urban Bicycle Networks“. The interactive data visualization platform was developed by NERDS Master students Cecilia Laura Kolding Andersen and Morten Lynghede as part of their thesis “Developing an Interactive Visualization of Bicycle Network Growth” with Michael Szell.

GrowBike.Net lets you explore how to grow bicycle networks from scratch in 62 cities worldwide. Choose a city and grow the bike network, connecting places efficiently step by step.

The growth process creates a cohesive bicycle network – something that every modern city should have. Studying these synthetic networks informs us about the geometric limitations of urban bicycle network growth and can lead to better designed bicycle infrastructure in cities. GrowBike.Net also allows to compare the grown networks with your city’s existing bicycle network.

Although our approach here is not yet aiming to provide concrete urban design solutions, it could be useful for planning purposes for easily generating an initial vision of a cohesive bicycle network – to be re-fined subsequently.

The platform also features a media page where over 1000 videos and plots can be downloaded: http://growbike.net/download

Have fun exploring growing bike networks in your city!

Prominent media coverage of our Nature paper

Our recently published, NERDS-involved Nature paper “The universal visitation law of human mobility” has received some prominent, international media coverage in the last month. Here a selection of news articles that explain the paper’s findings and implications:


Une loi universelle régit la fréquentation des villes

Die Vorhersagbarkeit menschlicher Bewegungsmuster


Das Universalgesetz der Straße

Door gegevens van mobiele telefoons weten we nu: stedelingen reizen niet vaak naar andere stadsdelen

Há um padrão universal na forma como as pessoas viajam nas cidades

Universelles Muster menschlicher Mobilität entdeckt

NERDS at ICWSM-2021

NERDS are currently active at this year’s International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM): https://www.icwsm.org/2021/index.htmlThe International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) is a forum for researchers from multiple disciplines to come together to share knowledge, discuss ideas, exchange information, and learn about cutting-edge research in diverse fields with the common theme of online social media. This overall theme includes research in new perspectives in social theories, as well as computational algorithms for analyzing social media. ICWSM is a singularly fitting venue for research that blends social science and computational approaches to answer important and challenging questions about human social behavior through social media while advancing computational tools for vast and unstructured data.

As usual, Luca Maria Aiello fulfils his role as Senior PC member at ICWSM. Further, we published two new papers at the event:

  1. The Healthy States of America: Creating a Health Taxonomy with Social Media, by S. Šćepanović, L.M. Aiello, K. Zhou, S. Joglekar, and D. Quercia

    Since the uptake of social media, researchers have mined online discussions to track the outbreak and evolution of specific diseases or chronic conditions such as influenza or depression. Here we developed a Deep Learning tool for Natural Language Processing that extracts mentions of virtually any medical condition or disease from unstructured social media text. We applied it to Reddit and Twitter posts, analyzed the clusters of the two resulting co-occurrence networks of conditions, and discovered that they correspond to well-defined categories of medical conditions. This resulted in the creation of the first comprehensive taxonomy of medical conditions automatically derived from online discussions, which strikingly resembles the official International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).
  2. Multilayer Graph Association Rules for Link Prediction, by M. Coscia and M. Szell

    Here we investigate the multilayer link prediction problem with graph association rules: Will two nodes connect, and of which type?

Four new NERDS papers in May 2021

This month we have published four new papers, in Nature, Sustainability, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, and ACM Computing Surveys:

  1. The universal visitation law of human mobility, by M. Schläpfer, L. Dong, K. O’Keeffe, P. Santi, M. Szell, H. Salat, S. Anklesaria, M. Vazifeh, C. Ratti, G.B. West, published in Nature
    More info at the accompanying interactive website: https://senseable.mit.edu/wanderlust/

    This paper reveals a simple and robust scaling law that captures the temporal and spatial spectrum of population movement on the basis of large-scale mobility data from diverse cities around the globe.

  2. Implementing Gehl’s Theory to Study Urban Space. The Case of Monotowns, by D. Cerrone, J. López Baeza, P. Lehtovuori, D. Quercia, R. Schifanella, and L.M. Aiello, published in Sustainability

    The paper presents a method to operationalize Jan Gehl’s questions for public space into metrics to map Russian monotowns’ urban life in 2017. With the use of social media data, it becomes possible to scale Gehl’s approach from the survey of small urban areas to the analysis of entire cities while maintaining the human scale’s resolution.
  3. The Dreamcatcher: Interactive Storytelling of Dreams, by E.P. Bogucka, B.A. Aseniero, L.M. Aiello, D. Quercia, published in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications

    Here we designed “The Dreamcatcher,” an interactive visual tool that explores the link between dreams and waking life through a collection of dream reports. We conducted a user study with 154 participants and found a 25% increase in the number of people believing that dream analysis can improve our daily lives after interacting with our tool. The visualization informed people about the potential of the continuity hypothesis to a surprising extent, to the point that it increased their concerns about sharing their own dream reports, thus opening new questions on how to design privacy-aware tools for dream collection.
  4. Community Detection in Multiplex Networks, by M. Magnani, O. Hanteer, R. Interdonato, L. Rossi, A. Tagarelli, published in ACM Computing Surveys

    Here we provide a taxonomy of community detection algorithms in multiplex networks. We characterize the different algorithms based on various properties and we discuss the type of communities detected by each method. We then provide an extensive experimental evaluation of the reviewed methods to answer three main questions: to what extent the evaluated methods are able to detect ground-truth communities, to what extent different methods produce similar community structures, and to what extent the evaluated methods are scalable. Besides offering a much needed overview of the methods and assumptions of CD in multiplex networks the paper attempts to provide few guiding principles for the choice of a community detection approach to multiplex data. 

Postdoc wanted on Science of Science and Algorithmic fairness

We are looking for a postdoc in data/network science, to start in fall 2021: Read more and apply at the official call page

The postdoc will work in the NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS) group at IT University of Copenhagen with Roberta Sinatra on the topic of Science of Science and Algorithmic fairness. The group currently focuses on quantitative projects at the boundary of computational social science and network science, including science of science, social dynamics, urban sustainability, data visualization, and fundamental questions in complex systems.

The postdoc position is part of a large project aimed to uncover the bias mechanisms that drive scientific impact, and to use them to create fair algorithms. The project will involve the analysis of large-scale datasets, running controlled experiments, and modelling social dynamics in science. Our priority is to attract technically strong researchers who are interested in asking bold, new questions with data. The team executing the project is composed of the PI, two postdocs, and one PhD student.

The position is in the NERDS group in the Computer Science Department. Both salary and working conditions are excellent. The group is a down-to-earth and fun place to be. Copenhagen is often named as the best city in the world to live in, and for good reasons. It’s world-renowned for food, beer, art, music, architecture, the Scandinavian “hygge”, and much more. In Denmark, parental leave is generous, and child-care is excellent and cheap.

The position is a full-time position, funded for 24 months.  See more details and apply in the official call. If you are interested feel free to reach out to Roberta Sinatra at rsin@itu.dk.