Albert-László Barabási, network scientist from Transylvania
Network scientist Albert-László Barabási was a keynote speaker at the event Fysikdagarna at the Physics Center in Gothenburg.

How the networks rule your life

What do the cells in your body have in common with Facebook, economic networks or the world wide web? Well, a lot more than you might think.
– We live in the age of networks and everything is determined by networks. The physics offer a way to understand how they all follow the same principles, says Albert-László Barabási, professor of network science.
As a guest speaker during Fysikdagarna in Gothenburg he will take us on an exciting journey into network science.

Complex technical systems, for example the world wide web, are very much alike biological organisms. Just like the cells in our bodies the systems can organise themselves and develop
Albert-László Barabási’s interest in networks started many years back when he worked for IBM in New York.

– In the beginning nobody thought this was worth studying. It took me four years before I could get my first paper accepted by a journal.
That was back in 1999. Since then a lot of things have changed and Albert-László Barabási has now published five books, written many scientific articles and is a popular speaker worldwide.
– The good thing about this subject is that it’s possible to talk about it in different levels. Everyone can relate to networks –  whether you are a physicist or not.
In Gothenburg Albert-László Barabási was introduced to the audience by professor Tünde Fülöp at the Department of Physics at Chalmers.
– He is an exceptional scientist with revolutionary insights. His presentations are mind blowing and very inspiring. Although the field of network science is highly interdisciplinary - it has its roots in physics as it uses concepts and methods developed by statistical physicists, says Tünde Fülöp.

Albert-László Barabási about…

... his driving force: I’m curious – about nature, society and about exploring complex systems.
…his hidden skills and weakness: I have a good intuition for physics and that has been driving my work – and that also compensates for my lack of mathematical strength.
… his countries: I’m Hungarian and from Transylvania. I share my time between Budapest and Boston. I also have spent much time in Sweden since my ex-wife is from Lund. I really like Sweden – I even considered moving to Lund, before starting my PHD in Boston.
… his choice to become a physicist: When I was 14 I was the only one in the class that passed the first physics test at school. I got confidence and I started to read everything that I could find in the library.

Abstract of his talk in Gothenburg: Systems as diverse as the world wide web, Internet or the cell are described by highly interconnected networks with amazingly complex topology. Recent studies indicate that these networks are the result of self-organizing processes governed by simple but generic laws, resulting in architectural features that makes them much more similar to each other than one would have expected by chance. I will discuss the order characterizing our interconnected world and its implications to network robustness, and control. Indeed, while control theory offers mathematical tools to steer engineered and natural systems towards a desired state, we lack a framework to control complex self-organized systems. I will discuss a recently developed analytical framework to study the controllability of an arbitrary complex directed network, identifying the set of driver


Published: Mon 26 Sep 2016. Modified: Mon 07 Nov 2016