Category Archives: Uncategorized

We moved into our new NERDS space

Over the summer our research group, and many others at ITU, moved to a new office space, taking over a building from DR, the national Danish Broadcasting Corporation. We NERDS secured a fancy new room housing all our members, which we have started to utilize and develop after the lockdown.

Our room and new address is:
3F11, Kaj Munks Vej 9, DR P4 building (a.k.a. Emil Holms Kanal)

After entering the building, take the elevators on the right. On the 3rd floor go left to the end of the hallway. See you!

Special issue “Complex Networks and Economics”

We are inviting contributions to the “Complex Networks and Economics” issue of the Frontiers in Big Data journal, co-edited by NERDS Michele Coscia and the NERDS-friendly and really excellent Morgan Frank, recently appointed assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Some additional information about what we’re looking for:

We think it is important to lift people out of poverty and to guarantee them decent standards of living. However, to successfully promote economic growth, the high degree of complexity of the global market and regional industrial activities requires an integrated understanding of the ecosystem of complementary actors, knowhow, and capital. The way to do so is by conceptualizing productivity as an emerging property of a complex system made by simpler interacting parts. Complex systems are notoriously difficult to control but quantifying these interactions can identify the bottlenecks to growth and inform policy to bolster economic convergence. Using tools from economics, complex systems, and network science, we seek crucial insights that enable economic convergence. 

The goal of this Research Topic is to collect contributions using complex network analysis to model economic systems and to gain insights into economic development which has proven to be a valuable scientific undertaking. We want to explore the potential applications of complex network analysis to foster our understanding of complex economic systems. We welcome contributions in the broad areas of:

• Mapping the relationship of complex economic activities to build Product and Industry Spaces at the global, regional, and local level;
• Tracking flows of knowhow in all its forms (business travels, social interrelationships between entrepreneurs, etc);
• Creating networks of related tasks and skills to estimate knockoff effects and productivity gains of automation;
• Investigating the dynamics of innovation via analysis of patents and inventions;
• Uncovering scaling laws and other growth trends able to describe the systemic increase in complexity of activities due to agglomeration, e.g. in cities;
• In general, any application of network analysis that can be used to further our understanding of economics.

We’re looking forward to your contributions!

Four new summer papers by NERDS

We have published four new papers over the summer:

  1. New and atypical combinations: An assessment of novelty and interdisciplinarity, by M. Fontana, M. Iori, F. Montobbio, R. Sinatra, published in Research Policy

    We compare different indicators of novelty and interdisciplinarity, and find that often they can’t distinguish novel and non-novel articles apart. We also find measured novelty highly overlaps measured interdisciplinarity, because the two are operationalized in similar ways.
  2. Mapping socioeconomic indicators using social media advertising data, by M. Fatehkia, I. Tingzon, A. Orden, S. Sy, V. Sekara, M. Garcia-Herranz, I. Weber, published in EPJ Data Science

    In this paper we ask: Is it possible to estimate poverty using data from the Facebook Ad platform?
  3. Knowledge diffusion in the network of international business travel, by M. Coscia, F.M.H. Neffke, R. Hausmann, published in Nature Human Behavior

    Read Michele’s blog post about it:
  4. Multiplex Graph Association Rules for Link Prediction, by M. Coscia and M. Szell, accepted for publication in 15th International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) 2021

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

Vedran Sekara has joined NERDS

We are happy to announce that Vedran Sekara has joined NERDS!

Vedran SekaraVedran is a well-rounded scientist with a professional background from tech, academia, and the international development sector, starting at ITU as Assistant Professor. His work lies in the intersection between network science, ethics and computer science, harnessing the power of complex networks, massive datasets, machine learning and data visualization for public good. Vedran joined from UNICEF where he was a Principal Researcher focused on understanding how modern technologies, such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, impact our societies and its most vulnerable communities. His previous work has been covered in The Ecomomist, Forbes, Scientific American, and Die Zeit, and been featured on the cover of the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.

At ITU Vedran plans to continue this stream of work by leveraging data from private, humanitarian and international sectors to understand data representativeness, algorithmic bias, and how to build equitable algorithms. We are super excited about all the ways Vedran will enrich our group, on both a social and professional level!

Check out Vedran’s cool Webpage and find him on Twitter.

Back from lockdown with 2 papers

NERDS are back from the lockdown with two three new papers published today:

  1. Distortions of political bias in crowdsourced misinformation flagging, by Michele Coscia and Luca Rossi, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface

    Luca writes more about the paper here:
    And here Michele’s take:

  2. Extracting the multimodal fingerprint of urban transportation networks, by Luis Guillermo Natera Orozco, Federico Battiston, Gerardo Iñiguez, and Michael Szell, published in Transport Findings

    In this paper we analyze urban transport network layers of multiple cities and come up with a multiplex-network based method to construct a “fingerprint” of how these layers connect. This gives insights and a classification on the multimodal potential of cities (how their modes of transport are connected).

Update June 11th: Make that one more:

3. Generalized Euclidean Measure to Estimate Network Distances, by Michele Coscia, published in ICWSM-2020

New Postdoc: Tiago Oliveira Cunha

We welcome our first Postdoc, Tiago Oliveira Cunha!

Tiago is a thriving computer scientist joining us from University of Michigan. He is interested in success and health issues online, and he has both research and industry experience. At NERDS, Tiago will research social dynamics and success using his expertise in computational social science, data mining, machine learning, social network analysis, and health informatics.

This friday he will give an introductory seminar to his research from 12:15-13:00 in the 4E wing, titled: Are All Successful Communities Alike? Characterizing and Predicting the Success of Online Communities.
Link to event:



Six months of NERDS

We have founded NERDS exactly 6 months ago to be a reference point at ITU for the research on network and data science applications to social systems. At 6 months old, we have already learned to sit up, to roll both ways, and soon we expect to crawl and also grow some teeth. More of our achievements so far:

  • Publications: We published five papers and three preprints:
    Paper 1) Multi-Party Media Partisanship Attention Score. Estimating Partisan Attention of News Media during election. Link
    Paper 2) A sociological study on fake news Link
    Paper 3) A mobility analysis of visitors to the Louvre Museum Link
    Paper 4) Discovering Communities of Community Discovery
    Paper 5) The Impact of Projection and Backboning on Network Topologies
    Preprint 1) An analysis of optimal bicycle network growth strategies: Link
    Preprint 2) A historical comparison of gender inequality in scientific careers: Link
    Preprint 3) A quantitative analysis of success and luck in creative careers: Link
  • Events: We got invited to/visited/presented at numerous events:
    Roberta: May 4 – Monte Carlo Prix Femme de l’année, July 13 – Lipari Complex Networks Workshop, Aug 29 – Cambridge Network Day, Sep 4 – Metascience Conference (Stanford), Sep 25 – Colloquium at SISSA (Trieste)
    Michele: July 13 – Lipari Complex Networks Workshop, Aug 27 – ASONAM (Vancouver)
    Luca: May 21 – Mandag Morgen talk (Bornholm), Sep 7 – Techfest Copenhagen
    Michael: May 23 – DataBeers Copenhagen, July 13 – Lipari Complex Networks Workshop, Oct 16 – Funders Forum on Sustainable Cities (Turin)
  • Organization: Together with KU ad DTU we brought DataBeers to Copenhagen and held two successful (booked out) events so far with 150 attendants each
  • Scientific exchange: We invited 4 expert speakers in the field to ITU, kicking off successfully our ongoing NERDS lunch seminar series
  • Editorial activities: Apart from our ongoing program committee activities, we co-edited a special issue on Science of Stories in PLOS ONE and on Human-Centric Data Science for Urban Studies in the International Journal of Geo-information
  • Outreach: Michael’s award-winning data visualization project “What the Street!?” got incorporated into the permanent exhibition of Futurium, Berlin, on Sep 5th. We are also maintaining an active Twitter account, connecting internationally with researchers and industry: @nerdsitu

What does the future hold?

  • We will welcome a new postdoc joining us on January 1st 2020
  • We look forward for our PhD student Obaida Hanteer to complete his thesis soon
  • We are awaiting and continually submitting grant applications to expand our group
  • We are waiting for reviews for multiple submitted papers
  • Organizing more DataBeers

Our long-term goal is 1) to build up a flourishing network of Denmark-based network/data science research groups, connecting ITU, KU, DTU, and others, 2) continue active collaboration with funding agencies and public stakeholders to solve societal problems with our research, and to further convey its importance to help us grow faster.

Live long and prosper 🖖
Roberta, Michael, Michele, Luca

First DataBeers Copenhagen was a smashing success

On May 23rd, the first DataBeers took place in Copenhagen, featuring 7-minute informal “data story” talks by five data scientists from academia and industry. The event, co-organized by NERDS members Roberta Sinatra and Michael Szell, became a smashing success with over 120 participants and 400 units of free beer consumed, filling up the historic Byens Lys cinema in freetown Christiania. Michael Szell’s first talk on the data visualization project What the Street!? was particularly well received by the energized crowd. From anarchist commune now to high society in Monaco two weeks earlier, NERDS are relentlessly spreading their research all over the world. 

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.

The Copenhagen edition is sponsored by SODAS @ KU and DTU Compute. We are always happy about sponsors, especially for beer – talk to us at
The next DataBeers Copenhagen is scheduled for Fall 2019. Follow us at @databeers_cph for updates. Stay tuned, and cheers! 🍻