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Hi, I am Giovanni Ciampaglia, and I'm a PhD student in Computer Science at University of Lugano, Switzerland. I am a member of a small and young (5 years old) research group called MACS Lab (Modelling and Application of Complex Systems Lab), mostly focused on models of urban systems and traffic models. I earned a master degree in CS from University of Rome "La Sapienza" and in my master thesis I used cellular automata and multi-agent systems to develop a model of the city of Rome (that's where I'm from, actually).
I am currently interested in modeling Wikipedia and the dynamics of its community of users, in order to understand what are the key policies that help to sustain collaboration and other social norms that Wikipedians have embraced. I am also interested in causal modeling but mostly I would like to learn more the Physics of complex systems and its connections to Computer Science, AI & Statistics, and all that.
I like reading books, bicycling, photography and listening to music. I am very excited about attending the CSSS and visiting Santa Fe! See you there!
Four Questions, four answers
- What are your main interests? Feel free to include a "pie in the sky" big idea! For my PhD I am developing a general model of cooperation in internet communities. The basic ideas of the model are tailored on the case study of Wikipedia, which of course is the most "advanced" internet community, plus has gigs of data available for analysis and calibration, but I hope the main ideas in the definitions are general enough to let one to model other internet communities (e.g. Flickr, Myspace), as well as things like academic publishing. My big and long-term research idea, however, is more about software design. I think there are many concepts shared by complexity theory and software engineering, and yet the latter seems to ignore the former, and vice-versa. What would be the advantages of seeing a piece of software using the complex systems perspective? Programmers tend to assume that software always behaves deterministically while many times this is not true, or simply that the system they design is so big that it is not possible to tackle such determinism proficiently.
- What sorts of expertise can you bring to the group? Having the education of a computer scientist, I know the usual array of programming languages. These days I am using the wonderful pair Python+Scipy (+ matplotlib + ipython + ...), if anybody is interested in knowing more about it. I remember some bit and pieces of theoretical computer science (Combinatorics, Graph theory, Information theory), and I am currently refreshing/advancing my knowledge of probability theory, so I hope to be able to know what a Martingale is by the beginning of the school. I also know a bit of fuzzy logic and fuzzy set theory.
- What do you hope to get out of the CSSS? Basically be able to understand concepts of complexity theory without having to go through all the advanced math/physics by my own self. Moreover complex systems research is multidisciplinary, and I would be very interested in understanding models from biology, social sciences, etc etc ... they might turn out to be useful in the future :-)
- Do you have any possible projects in mind for the CSSS? I don't have any precise ideas yet. Mathematical analysis of multi-agent systems is definitevely something I'll need to do for my research. Another idea I have is how to infer a fuzzy cognitive map from a causal description of the dynamics of a system – whatever that means.
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