Improving Urban Mobility by Understanding its Complexity

Urban mobility systems are composed multiple elements with strong interactions, i.e. their future is co-determined by the state of other elements. Thus, studying components in isolation, i.e. using a reductionist approach, is inappropriate. I propose five recommendations to improve urban mobility based on insights from the scientific study of complex systems: use adaptation over prediction, regulate interactions to avoid friction, use sensors to recover real time information, develop adaptive algorithms to exploit that information, and deploy agents to act on the urban environment.

Improving Urban Mobility by Understanding its Complexity
Carlos Gershenson


Final CfP: ALife XV

ALife XV: The Fifteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems will take place in Cancun, Mexico, on July 4-8, 2016. 

The deadline for paper and abstract submissions was extended to February 29th. This extension is final. All accepted contributions will be published by MIT Press as open online proceedings. There are two submission options: Full papers (8 pages) should report on new, unpublished work. Extended abstracts (2 pages) can report on previously published work, but offer a new perspective on that work. Submitted or novel work is also acceptable for abstracts.
Accepted works will be selected as oral or poster presentations.
Submissions can be made also for a Special Session on ALife and Society. The Call for Artworks is out. Accepted Workshops and Tutorials will be announced soon.
We are happy to announce that our keynote speakers cover a wide variety of topics and include Randall BeerEzequiel Di PaoloStuart KauffmanFrancisco C. SantosLinda Smith and Antonio Lazcano. We are also honored to have an artistic premier by Ken Rinaldo, whose artworks have extensively explored the intersection of life and technology.

Important dates:

Submission of papers or abstracts: February 14th 29th, 2016
Notifications: March 25th, 2016
Camera-ready versions April 24th, 2016

Details of submissions at: http://xva.life/?page_id=349
Early-bird membership registration is already available (until April 10th). You can find registration costs and more information about the event at http://xva.life 
Website: http://xva.life  
Social media: Twitter | Facebook


Postdoctoral Fellowships at UNAM

//Please forward to whom may be interested.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has an open call for postdoctoral fellowships to start in September, 2016. 

Candidates should have obtained a PhD degree within the last three years and be under 36 years, both to the date of the beginning of the fellowship.

The area of interests of candidates should fall within complex systems, artificial life, information, evolution, cognition, robotics, and/or philosophy.

 Interested candidates should send CV and a tentative project/research interests (1 paragraph) to cgg-at-unam.mx by Monday, February 8th (if starting in September 2016, otherwise in the coming months, there will be a later call for March, 2017 with a summer deadline). 

Postdoctoral fellowships are between one and two years (after renewal).
 Spanish is not a requisite.
 Accepted candidates would be working at the Computer Science Department (http://turing.iimas.unam.mx ) of the IIMAS (http://www.iimas.unam.mx ), and/or at the Center for Complexity Sciences (http://c3.unam.mx/ ), both at UNAM's main campus.
To know more about UNAM, visit http://turing.iimas.unam.mx/~cgg/unam.html

More information at http://dgapa.unam.mx/html/posdoc/posdoc.html [in Spanish].


CfP: ALife XV, Cancun 2016

Paper/ abstract submission deadline: February 14th, 2016
Notification to authors: March 25th, 2016
Camera ready due: April 24th, 2016

The Fifteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALife XV) will be held in Cancun, Mexico on July 4th-8th, 2016.

We cordially invite you to submit your work in either full paper (8 pages) or extended abstract (2 pages) format. Accepted papers and abstracts will be published by MIT Press as open-access electronic proceedings

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following aspects of Artificial Life:
– Computational humanities/anthropology/archeology
– Evolution of language, computational linguistics
– Bio-inspired, cognitive and evolutionary robotics
– Self-replication, self-repair and morphogenesis
– Artificial chemistry, origins of life
– Cellular automata and discrete dynamical systems
– Perception, cognition and behavior
– Embodied, interactive systems
– Collective dynamics of swarms
– Complex dynamical networks
– Evolutionary dynamics
– Ecological and social dynamics
– Economy/society/social media as living systems
– Methodologies and tools for artificial life
– Living technology
– Applications to nanotechnology, biology or medicine
– Applications to business and finance
– Applications to games and entertainment
– Artificial life-based art
– Philosophical and ethical issues
– Artificial life and education
Calls for Workshops, Tutorials, and Artwork will be announced soon.


Bioinformatics Research Professor Position at UNAM

The Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas (IIMAS) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) has an open call for a research professor position in bioinformatics. This position, aimed consists of renewable one-year contracts with the possibility of tenure after three years.

The aim of these positions is to create a research group in the new campus of UNAM in Mérida, Yucatán, part of the Science and Technology Park of Yucatán.

Application deadline: October 12, 2015.

More details (in Spanish) at this link.


Paper published: Urban Transfer Entropy across Scales

The morphology of urban agglomeration is studied here in the context of information exchange between different spatio-temporal scales. Urban migration to and from cities is characterised as non-random and following non-random pathways. Cities are multidimensional non-linear phenomena, so understanding the relationships and connectivity between scales is important in determining how the interplay of local/regional urban policies may affect the distribution of urban settlements. In order to quantify these relationships, we follow an information theoretic approach using the concept of Transfer Entropy. Our analysis is based on a stochastic urban fractal model, which mimics urban growing settlements and migration waves. The results indicate how different policies could affect urban morphology in terms of the information generated across geographical scales.

Murcio R, Morphet R, Gershenson C, Batty M (2015) Urban Transfer Entropy across Scales. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0133780. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133780 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0133780


Paper published: Measuring the complexity of adaptive peer-to-peer systems

To improve the efficiency of peer-to-peer (P2P) systems while adapting to changing environmental conditions, static peer-to-peer protocols can be replaced by adaptive plans. The resulting systems are inherently complex, which makes their development and characterization a challenge for traditional methods. Here we propose the design and analysis of adaptive P2P systems using measures of complexity, emergence, self-organization, and homeostasis based on information theory. These measures allow the evaluation of adaptive P2P systems and thus can be used to guide their design. We evaluate the proposal with a P2P computing system provided with adaptation mechanisms. We show the evolution of the system with static and also changing workload, using different fitness functions. When the adaptive plan forces the system to converge to a predefined performance level, the nodes may result in highly unstable configurations, which correspond to a high variance in time of the measured complexity. Conversely, if the adaptive plan is less “aggressive”, the system may be more stable, but the optimal performance may not be achieved.

Measuring the complexity of adaptive peer-to-peer systems
Michele Amoretti, Carlos Gershenson
Peer-to-Peer Networking and Applications


New draft: When slower is faster

The slower is faster (SIF) effect occurs when a system performs worse when its components try to be better. Thus, a moderate individual efficiency actually leads to a better systemic performance. The SIF effect takes place in a variety of phenomena. We review studies and examples of the SIF effect in pedestrian dynamics, vehicle traffic, traffic light control, logistics, public transport, social dynamics, ecological systems, and adaptation. Drawing on these examples we generalize common features of the SIF effect and suggest possible future lines of research.

When slower is faster
Carlos Gershenson, Dirk Helbing

Update: paper was published in Complexity:


Five postdoctoral fellowships in complex systems, UNAM

As a part of the consolidation of the National Laboratory of Complexity, the Center for Complexity Science of the National Autonomous University of Mexico is seeking outstanding candidates for five one year postdoctoral positions beginning in August, 2015. Research plans from all areas related to complex systems are encouraged.

Please send CV and research plan to cgg [at] unam.mx before June 10th.

//Please forward to whom may be interested.


New paper: Rank Diversity of Languages: Generic Behavior in Computational Linguistics

Statistical studies of languages have focused on the rank-frequency distribution of words. Instead, we introduce here a measure of how word ranks change in time and call this distribution rank diversity. We calculate this diversity for books published in six European languages since 1800, and find that it follows a universal lognormal distribution. Based on the mean and standard deviation associated with the lognormal distribution, we define three different word regimes of languages: “heads” consist of words which almost do not change their rank in time, “bodies” are words of general use, while “tails” are comprised by context-specific words and vary their rank considerably in time. The heads and bodies reflect the size of language cores identified by linguists for basic communication. We propose a Gaussian random walk model which reproduces the rank variation of words in time and thus the diversity. Rank diversity of words can be understood as the result of random variations in rank, where the size of the variation depends on the rank itself. We find that the core size is similar for all languages studied.

Cocho G, Flores J, Gershenson C, Pineda C, Sánchez S (2015) Rank Diversity of Languages: Generic Behavior in Computational Linguistics. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0121898. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121898

This is the first publication of an ongoing collaboration with colleagues from the Physics Institute at UNAM, there is more in the works... It has been a pleasure working with them.