Dino Carpentras

Social Complexity

On the news for the fellowship

The UL Link magazine (circulated with the Irish Times newspaper) features an article about me and the other Marie Curie fellows. I am happy to be part of such an amazing group!

Link: https://edition.pagesuite… (pag 32)

Increasing the degrees of freedoms in agent-based models

A new preprint came out today from a work I developed together with Alejandro Dinkelberg and Prof. Mike Quayle at UL, Limerick.

Opinion dynamics is a field focused on understanding the evolution of people’s opinions. Within this field, opinions are usually represented as numbers without any other requirement. So we started wondering: can this have some implications on the models?

For example, as we convert meters to feet, we can also convert different scales for measuring people’s opinions. How do these models change when we change their “units?”

From our study, it appears that while physics equations are unaffected by changes of the variable (you just need to rescale) this is not true for opinion dynamics models.

Indeed, we found that scale conversion (even in the case of perfect measurement) can totally change the model’s dynamics. This result in a change on the final outcome up to 100%. Furthermore, by changing scale, we were able to convert one model into another one.

If you are interested in this research, you can find it here:

http://user102493.psee.ly/x4j2e

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 891347.

A brand new science vlog!

There is something that really makes me feel bad about science, and is the way it is communicated. Do not get me wrong, I do not think that science communicators are doing a bad job. I think the one working poorly is the system itself.

Indeed, today, if you want to succeed as a science communicator, you need to produce what people like. And people like the amazing part of science. They want to know facts, they want to discover more, and definitely, they do not want to spend hours in a lab trying to figure out why a device is not working properly. And this is fine!

The problem is that we never say to people that science is not much about knowing things, but mostly about asking interesting questions, working tons of hours to make those questions better, then, finding that all those questions do not make any sense, despair, find a new question that actually makes sense and, with a bit of luck, also a good answer.

To put it in a less dramatic tone science is not about knowing the right things, but about thinking in the right way. And if there is something that science can give to the common people is not how many neutrons can be found in helium isotopes, but to think like a scientist. Think critically, ask good questions and distinguish good answers from the bad ones.

All of this to say: I made a new vlog to show the behind the scenes of science. I hope it will be useful!

An exclusive competition

During this weird summer dedicated to starting a new career, working from home and moving to a new country (with all the COVID-related mess of travelling) someway I found myself participating in a very interesting competition.

The MSCA Falling Walls Lab is a competition in which each participant has to explain his whole project in just 3 minutes. Such a task is extremely challenging, but also fascinating. Indeed, it pushes people to re-think about their entire project and take a completely new perspective: how many details do you think can fit in a 3 minutes speech?

Unfortunately, I was not able to win (still a long way to go!) but I was still honoured to be in the top 5%. Especially considering the fact that the success rate of the Marie Curie applications is below 15%.

But what got me excited the most, is the fact that this presentation made me realize the strong connection between agent-based models and videogames. A connection that surely I am going to explore!

With the EU vs (the) Virus

I’m glad to announce that from today I will be participating in the EU vs Virus Hackaton. A 3-days hackathon dedicated to finding innovative solutions to fight the problems caused by the current epidemics.

Personally, I will be looking for developing solutions which will exploit social complexity. If you are interested in participating, just register to https://euvsvirus.org/ and join our forces! 💪💪💪

Making people understand COVID’s data

During these days of quarantine, a hard task is to keep people informed. The main problem comes with the nature of the data that are usually misleading. Indeed, while people can easily understand the concept of new cases or number of deceased, these values are not representative of the real growth. Indeed, the number of cases has a clear exponential growth.

A solution is using the growth rate, as many are doing now. Unfortunately, this is a quite abstract concept and most people do not have any idea of how big a rate of 30% actually is. And even if we say that this rate decreased by 80% they still have no clue how good this is.

With Social Complexity Labs we decided instead to use a more understandable measurement: the doubling time. That is the time needed for doubling the number of cases at that specific rate. We express it in days and months, so people can directly quantify the increase.

Furthermore, we are also working on making the graphs aesthetically pleasing. (All of this is part of our project on better scientific communication).

The results look like this:

Or this:

If you like the idea feel free to re-use the images or apply the doubling to your graphs!

Fighting blindness

Nature Photonics (i.f. = 38) published an article I worked on. The article focuses on an innovative technique for observing the retina at the cellular level, allowing for early detection of eye-diseases (and thus, preventing blindness).

I personally developed the mathematical model for this project, which was also published in Optics Express and in my PhD thesis. This model allowed us to understand what determined the image formation process and how to maximize image quality (reaching the cellular level).

This joint publication was developed by the team working at École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, under the supervision of Prof. Christophe Moser and Prof. Francine Behar-Cohen.

We also issued a worldwide patent based on this technology and, some members of the team also made a startup.


Links

Nature’s article: https://go.nature.com/3bqDF7W

Optics Express article: https://bit.ly/3dvRd40

PhD thesis: https://bit.ly/2JiTqSs

Patent: https://bit.ly/3dvHrP4

Moser’s Lab: https://www.epfl.ch/labs/lapd/

Marie Curie Fellowship

I am honored to announce that I have been awarded with a fellowship from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the European Commission. This fund is extremely competitive, as the success ratio is ~10%.

The project is strictly related to rationality as I will study vaccine hesitancy using mathematical and computational models.

The fellowship will take place at University of Limerick, Ireland (awarded Irish university of 2019), with Dr. Mike Quayle (expert in social psychology) and Prof. James Gleeson (expert in multilayer networks).

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