About the Institute

Working to discover and inspire fundamentally new ways to measure, model, predict and visualize meaningful interactions and interconnectivity of social, physical and technological systems; explore their universality and predictability; and inform intervention strategies to improve health and security of human populations.

The Network Science Institute at Northeastern University brings together innovative research teams in a shared lab space that is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary. Institute research integrates models, theories and problem solving approaches across disciplines with the shared goal to understand systems by discovering the underlying principles, properties and purpose of its connectivity. From this nexus of cross-domain exchanges, our team has a strong track record developing unconventional strategies to help solve some of the most complex problems that range from biological, social and geospatial systems, to cyber, wireless, and technological challenges.

Research conducted in the institute covers fundamental mathematical and theoretical discoveries about networks, including geometry of networks, representation and manipulation of multi-dimensional networks. While domain-specific inquiries have provided novel insights on brain functions, disease processes, disease spread through populations, predictions of emerging scientific innovations and breakthroughs, group learning and consensus, and political movements. The Institute is comprised of three foundational components:

Information technology infrastructure

The institute is dedicated to building secure high performance computing power to analyze datasets at a massive scale. Data infrastructure includes development of a library of high-integrity discipline-specific datasets through partnerships with non-profit, federal and corporate organizations, to include curation of theoretical, population-based surveillance, social media, senor and other digital data, as well as data from lab, field and virtual experimental settings.

Inquiry-Driven Research Projects

Topics under investigation are considered from both basic and applied scientific perspectives; and are motivated by the need for tools and frameworks capable of addressing challenges of multi-dimension-, scale-, and generalize-ability; and for discovery of fundamental truths to explain complex social, physical, spatial and technical phenomena. Projects can be categorized as: (i) mathematical and theoretical foundations of dynamical multilayer networks; and (ii) behavior of domain specific networks, including: social influence and diffusion; social behavior modeling; biological systems; control & resilience.

Network Science Education and Outreach

With the goal of training a new generation of scholars to use interdisciplinary approaches, the Institute has developed the first PhD program in Network Science in the US.  Courses and workshops are being developed for graduate, undergraduate, and k-12 students, as well as for government and industry partners.  These courses will help train the next generation of network science scholars with the computational skills and depth of disciplinary knowledge to become visionary thought leaders. In addition, these outreach efforts will contribute to the culture of open academic collaboration and inquiry; and inspire a community dedicated to fundamentally changing the way society understands and interacts with our networked world.

Network Science

Network Science enables exploration of complex networked systems using a common platform, rooted in the insight that despite their diversity of behavior, the dynamics of different kinds of networks are characterized by many common organizing principles.

Dramatic improvements in information technology over the past 20 years, including increased storage capacity and computing power, has made it possible to archive and study massive amounts of data.  Large-scale datasets describing topics ranging from mobile phone usage, to medical records, to biological signaling pathways and climate change are being built and curated by myriad organizations throughout the world.  The emerging field of network science, in which complex systems of interconnected components are studied, presents an opportunity to leverage these technology-based advances for the benefit of both science and society. 

Network Science enables exploration of complex networked systems using a common platform, rooted in the insight that despite their diversity of behavior, the dynamics of different kinds of networks are characterized by many common organizing principles and can thus be studied with similar tools using methodological advances in computational thinking, complex systems analysis, and data integration. The ambition to understand the behaviors of complex systems, and to apply these findings to problems in public health, social science, security, and biomedical sciences, among other domains, is a significant undertaking that is gaining momentum in academic, government and corporate spheres. The challenge ahead is to develop theories, tools, methodologies and datasets that are flexible and scalable so that they can be applied across scientific domains in meaningful and productive ways.