Conference attendance proves “deeply inspiring”

NetSci 2017 was held in Indianapolis over 19–23 June, organised by Indiana University, Bloomington, and the Network Science Society, and I took part with the help of the IOP Early Career Researchers Fund.

This was the 12th annual installment of NetSci, which has been organised around the world, bringing together network scientists from a wide range of disciplines. This year’s conference was attended by 680 participants.

My involvement in the conference consisted of a talk on a satellite meeting centred around the theme of social influence in networks on the Monday, and a poster contribution, whose main plenary presentation was the Wednesday.

The talk was entitled Network Structure in Artistic Influence, and was based on one of the two main projects of my PhD research, where I form a social network of western art painters and am using community detection methods, standard and generalised centrality measures, and measures of brokerage to identify and quantify artistic influence.

What makes me particularly motivated about this project is how it finds a novel area where networks become relevant and can be used to bridge yet another discipline with applications of physics. The talk also got a few interesting questions and comments about my definition and construction of the network, which I can certainly use in later work.

My poster, Preferential Attachment in Container Shipping, was based on the second main project of my PhD work, modelling container shipping networks by models incorporating the concept of exogenous intrinsic fitness. The aim is to understand how a port’s attractiveness impacts its capability to attract edges in a growing network, which in turn motivates the more theoretical discussion of how a latecomer node in a growing network can depend on its fitness to eventually dominate the network. My work attracted interest from young researchers who were working with the fitness model theoretically, and mainly from a post-doc from Dalian University in China, who was also working on container shipping networks and found the inclusion of fitness quite promising.

Apart from presenting my own work, I had the opportunity to listen to world authorities on the field of networks, such as Albert-László Barabási, Steve Borgatti, Aaron Clauset and Renaud Lambiotte. Possibly one of the most interesting talks I heard in the conference was by one of the youngest authorities in networks, Danielle Bassett, whose applications of networks in neuroscience I found fascinating and deeply inspiring. I was also delighted to meet other young researchers in the field of networks, whose community drive definitely seems to keep the field growing.

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Michael Kitromilidis

Michael Kitromilidis

Michael Kitromilidis is a third-year PhD student at Imperial College London, and a member of the Centre for Complexity Science and Theoretical Physics Groups. His work focuses on the interdisciplinary applications of complex networks. He holds an MSc in complex systems modelling from King’s College London and a BA in mathematics from the University of Cambridge.
Michael Kitromilidis

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