Visiting Speaker
Andrea Baronchelli
Assistant Professor in Mathematics at City, University of London
The Dynamics of Social Consensus: From Names to Cryptocurrencies
Apr 27, 2018
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11:00 am
177 Huntington Ave
11th floor
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How does consensus emerge and evolve in complex decentralized social systems? This question engages fields as diverse as sociology, linguistics, cognitive science and network science. Various attempts to solve this puzzle pre-suppose that formal or informal institutions are needed to facilitate a solution. The complex systems approach, by contrast, hypotheses that such institutions are not necessary in order for social consensus to form. In this talk, I will present experimental results that demonstrate the spontaneous creation of universally adopted social conventions. In doing so, I will show how a population's network structure controls the dynamics of norm formation, as captured by the simple Naming Game model. Then, within the same framework, I will discuss how social norms can evolve in the absence of a centralized authority. Finally, I will present some recent results on the modeling of the cryptocurrency market. Adopting an ecological perspective, I will show that the so-called neutral model of evolution reproduces key statistical properties of the market, despite the fact that it assumes no selective advantage of one cryptocurrency over another. These results shed light on the properties of the cryptocurrency market and establish a first formal link between ecological modeling and the study of this growing system.


A. Baronchelli “The emergence of consensus: A primer”, Royal Society Open Science 4, 172189 (2018)A. 

El Bahrawy et al "Evolutionary dynamics of the crypto currency market", Royal Society Open Science 4, 172189 (2018) 

D. Centola and A. Baronchelli "The spontaneous emergence of conventions: An experimental study of cultural evolution ", PNAS 112,1989 (2015)

about the speaker
Andrea Baronchelli is a Lecturer (Assist. Prof.) in Mathematics at City, University of London. His main interest is to quantify and model the emerging global properties of social and cognitive systems. Topics he is currently investigating include the spontaneous emergence and evolution of social consensus, the self-organisation of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, human exploration of physical and mental spaces, and collective dynamics in online and offline social networks. At a more fundamental level, his research focuses on the study of complex networks and the way they affect the dynamical processes taking place upon them. Homepage:

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