MIT-Harvard CINCS / Hamilton Institute Seminar

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 15:00 to 16:00

MIT-Harvard CINCS (Communications Information Networks Circuits and Signals) / Hamilton Institute Seminar

Speaker: Professor James Gleeson, UL

Title: "Branching processes as models of cascade dynamics on networks"

Abstract: Network models may be applied to describe many complex systems, and in the era of online social networks the study of dynamics on networks is an important branch of computational social science.  Cascade dynamics can occur when the state of a node is affected by the states of its neighbours in the network, for example when a Twitter user is inspired to retweet a message that she received from a user she follows, with one event (the retweet) potentially causing further events (retweets by followers of followers) in a chain reaction. In this talk I will review some mathematical models that can help us understand how social contagion (the spread of cultural fads and the viral diffusion of information) depends upon the structure of the social network and on the dynamics of human behaviour. Although the models are simple enough to allow for mathematical analysis, I will show examples where they can also provide good matches to empirical observations of cascades on social networks.

Bio: James Gleeson holds the Chair in Industrial and Applied Mathematics at the University of Limerick. As co-director of MACSI, the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry, he leads research into applications of mathematics to real-world problems with significant economic and social impact. James is a graduate of University College Dublin in Mathematical Sciences and Mathematical Physics and received his PhD in Applied Mathematics from California Institute of Technology in 1999. Following his graduation from Caltech, he held positions as a visiting assistant professor in Arizona State University, postdoctoral research positions in the Department of Applied Mathematics at University College Cork (UCC) and National Microelectronic Research Centre (NMRC, now Tyndall Institute), and as a senior lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences, UCC before moving to Limerick. His research interests are in mathematical modelling, particularly of stochastic dynamics on complex networks.