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Date: Mon, 30 May 2016 11:02:35 +0000
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Subject: [utf-8] Latest Complexity Digest Posts

Learn about the latest and greatest related to complex systems research. More at

Matching markets in the digital age

    Recent advances in information technology are enabling new markets and 
revolutionizing many existing markets. For example, taxicabs used to find 
passengers through chance drive-bys or slow central dispatching (see the 
photo). Location tracking, computer navigation, and dynamic pricing now 
enable ride-sharing services such as Uber to offer low and consistent 
delay times of only a few minutes. In a recent study, Cramer and Krueger 
(1) show that ride-sharing has dramatically increased the usage of drivers 
and their cars, cutting costs for riders. The results highlight the 
opportunities provided by digital markets. Further efficiency gains may 
come from academia-industry collaborations, which could also help to 
ensure that the markets develop in ways that further the public interest.

˙˙Matching markets in the digital age
Eduardo M. Azevedo, E. Glen Weyl

Science  27 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6289, pp. 1056-1057

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Government ˙˙nudges˙˙ prove their worth

    Over the past 5 years, on behalf of state governments, nearly 100,000 
Americans were gently manipulated by a team of social scientists. In 15 
randomized, controlled trials, people in need of social services either 
encountered the standard application process or received a psychological 
nudge, in which the information was presented slightly differently˙˙a 
postcard reminded them of deadlines, for example, or one choice was made 
easier than another. In 11 of the trials, the nudge modestly increased a 
person's response rate or influenced them to make financially smarter 
choices. The results, presented this week at a meeting in Chicago, add to 
the growing evidence that nudges developed by psychologists can make a 
real difference in the success of government programs.

Government ˙˙nudges˙˙ prove their worth
John Bohannon
Science  27 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6289, pp. 1042

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Gender homophily in online dyadic and triadic relationships

    Gender homophily, or the preference for interaction with individuals of 
the same gender, has been observed in many contexts, especially during 
childhood and adolescence. In this study we investigate such phenomenon by 
analyzing the interactions of the ˙˙10 million users of Tuenti, a Spanish 
social networking service popular among teenagers. In dyadic relationships 
we find evidence of higher gender homophily for women. We also observe a 
preference of users with more friends to connect to the opposite gender. A 
particularly marked gender difference emerges in signing up for the social 
networking service and adding the first friends, and in the interactions 
by means of wall messages. In these contexts we find evidence of a strong 
homophily for women, and little or no homophily for men. By examining the 
gender composition of triangle motifs, we observe a marked tendency of 
users to group into gender homogeneous clusters, with a particularly high 
number of male-only triangles. We show that age plays an important role in 
this context, with a tendency to higher homophily for young teenagers in 
both dyadic and triadic relationships. Our findings have implications for 
addressing gender gap issues, understanding adolescent online behavior and 
technology adoption, and modeling social networks.

Gender homophily in online dyadic and triadic relationships
David Laniado˙˙, Yana Volkovich, Karolin Kappler and Andreas Kaltenbrunner

EPJ Data Science20165:19

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The Real Secret of Youth Is Complexity

    Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!˙˙ Henry David Thoreau exhorted in 
his 1854 memoir Walden, in which he extolled the virtues of a 
˙˙Spartan-like˙˙ life. Saint Thomas Aquinas preached that simplicity 
brings one closer to God. Isaac Newton believed it leads to truth. The 
process of simplification, we˙˙re told, can illuminate beauty, strip away 
needless clutter and stress, and help us focus on what really matters.

It can also be a sign of aging. Youthful health and vigor depend, in many 
ways, on complexity. Bones get strength from elaborate scaffolds of 
connective tissue. Mental acuity arises from interconnected webs of 
neurons. Even seemingly simple bodily functions like heartbeat rely on 
interacting networks of metabolic controls, signaling pathways, genetic 
switches, and circadian rhythms. As our bodies age, these anatomic 
structures and physiologic processes lose complexity, making them less 
resilient and ultimately leading to frailty and disease.

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A Schrödinger cat living in two boxes

    The story of Schrödinger's cat being hidden away in a box and being 
both dead and alive is often invoked to illustrate the how peculiar the 
quantum world can be. On a twist of the dead/alive behavior, Wang et al. 
now show that the cat can be in two separate locations at the same time. 
Constructing their cat from coherent microwave photons, they show that the 
state of the ˙˙electromagnetic cat˙˙ can be shared by two separated 
cavities. Going beyond common-sense absurdities of the classical world, 
the ability to share quantum states in different locations could be a 
powerful resource for quantum information processing.

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Poverty linked to epigenetic changes and mental illness

    Impoverished adolescents acquire DNA marks, brain changes and depression over time.

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Cooperation, competition and the emergence of criticality in communities of adaptive systems

    The hypothesis that living systems can benefit from operating at the vicinity of critical points has gained momentum in recent years. Criticality may confer an optimal balance between too ordered and exceedingly noisy states. Here we present a model, based on information theory and statistical mechanics, illustrating how and why a community of agents aimed at understanding and communicating with each other converges to a globally coherent state in which all individuals are close to an internal critical state, i.e. at the borderline between order and disorder. We study˙˙both analytically and computationally˙˙the circumstances under which criticality is the best possible outcome of the dynamical process, confirming the convergence to critical points under very generic conditions. Finally, we analyze the effect of cooperation (agents trying to enhance not only their fitness, but also that of other individuals) and competition (agents trying to improve their own fitness and to
diminish those of competitors) within our setting. The conclusion is that, while competition fosters criticality, cooperation hinders it and can lead to more ordered or more disordered consensual outcomes.

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Information encryption in the expert management of strategic uncertainty

    Strategic agents in incomplete-information environments have a 
conflicted relationship with uncertainty: it can keep them unpredictable 
to their opponents, but it must also be overcome to predict the actions of 
those opponents. We use a multivariate generalization of information 
theory to characterize the information processing behavior of strategic 
reasoning experts. We compare expert and novice poker players --- "sharks" 
and "fish" --- over 1.75 million hands of online two-player No-Limit Texas 
Hold'em (NLHE). Comparing the effects of privately known and publicly 
signaled information on wagering behavior, we find that the behavior of 
sharks coheres with information that emerges only from the interaction of 
public and private sources --- "synergistic" information that does not 
exist in either source alone. This implies that the effect of public 
information on shark behavior is better encrypted: it cannot be 
reconstructed without access to the hidden state of private cards. 
Integrative information processing affects not only one's own strategic 
behavior, but the ability of others to predict it. By characterizing the 
informational structure of complex strategic interactions, we offer a 
detailed account of how experts extract, process, and conceal valuable 
information in high-uncertainty, high-stakes competitive environments.

Information encryption in the expert management of strategic uncertainty

Seth Frey, Paul L. Williams, Dominic K. Albino

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Simulating the interaction of road users: A glance to complexity of Venezuelan traffic

    Automotive traffic is a classical example of a complex system, being 
the simplest case the homogeneous traffic where all vehicles are of the 
same kind, and using different means of transportation increases 
complexity due to different driving rules and interactions between each 
vehicle type. In particular, when motorcyclists drive in between the lanes 
of stopped or slow-moving vehicles. This later driving mode is a 
Venezuelan pervasive practice of mobilization that clearly jeopardizes 
road safety. We developed a minimalist agent-based model to analyze the 
interaction of road users with and without motorcyclists on the way. The 
presence of motorcyclists dwindles significantly the frequency of lane 
changes of motorists while increasing their frequency of 
acceleration-deceleration maneuvers, without significantly affecting their 
average speed. That is, motorcyclist "corralled" motorists in their lanes 
limiting their ability to maneuver and increasing their acceleration 
noise. Comparison of the simulations with real traffic videos shows good 
agreement between model and observation. The implications of these results 
regarding road safety concerns about the interaction between motorists and 
motorcyclists are discussed.

Simulating the interaction of road users: A glance to complexity of Venezuelan traffic
Juan C. Correa, Mario I. Caicedo, Ana L. C. Bazzan, Klaus Jaffe

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Social and Spatial Clustering of People at Humanity's Largest Gathering

    Macroscopic behavior of scientific and societal systems results from 
the aggregation of microscopic behaviors of their constituent elements, 
but connecting the macroscopic with the microscopic in human behavior has 
traditionally been difficult. Manifestations of homophily, the notion that 
individuals tend to interact with others who resemble them, have been 
observed in many small and intermediate size settings. However, whether 
this behavior translates to truly macroscopic levels, and what its 
consequences may be, remains unknown. Here, we use call detail records 
(CDRs) to examine the population dynamics and manifestations of social and 
spatial homophily at a macroscopic level among the residents of 23 states 
of India at the Kumbh Mela, a 3-month-long Hindu festival. We estimate 
that the festival was attended by 61 million people, making it the largest 
gathering in the history of humanity. While we find strong overall 
evidence for both types of homophily for residents of different states, 
participants from low-representation states show considerably stronger 
propensity for both social and spatial homophily than those from 
high-representation states. These manifestations of homophily are 
amplified on crowded days, such as the peak day of the festival, which we 
estimate was attended by 25 million people. Our findings confirm that 
homophily, which here likely arises from social influence, permeates all 
scales of human behavior.

Social and Spatial Clustering of People at Humanity's Largest Gathering
Ian Barnett, Tarun Khanna, Jukka-Pekka Onnela

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Postdoc in the area of Computational Social Science @ETH Zürich

    Research subjects of particular interest are: agent-based, multi-level, and/or evolutionary game theoretical models of social processes; artificial societies; social technologies; real-time measurement of socio-economic activities; measurement of social capital; methods and technologies to create collective awareness; reputation and incentive systems; innovative financial and socio-economic systems; qualified money; Blockchain technologies; sharing economy; Virtual Reality; collective intelligence; digital societies; resilient societies; ethical and value-sensitive ICT; responsible innovation; design for emergence and values. Candidates should have an interest in supporting the visions and goals of the FuturICT and Nervousnet projects (see, ( and the related facebook, twitter and vimeo pages).

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