Lorentz Center - Econophysics and Networks Across Scales from 27 May 2013 through 31 May 2013
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    Econophysics and Networks Across Scales
    from 27 May 2013 through 31 May 2013


Description and aim



The unconventional (with respect to ‘mainstream’ Economics) approach of Econophysics is the investigation of socioeconomic and financial systems through statistical induction from empirical data, rather than mathematical deduction from (often unreasonable) postulates such as perfect rationality, complete knowledge, homogeneity, stability, and equilibrium. As Physics in general, Econophysics aims at reconciling theories with observations, through a mutual feedback between these two sides of science.

After its establishment (in the 1990’s) as a field focusing mainly on the complexity of financial time series and its consequences (e.g. for portfolio optimization or risk management), over the last decade Econophysics has expanded into a much larger variety of economic and financial phenomena, such as wealth distributions, patterns of economic production, international trade, systemic risk, interbank markets, and many more. These processes differ in the internal mechanisms and in their scale, but have a common ingredient: an underlying intricate networked structure.


Network Theory

In traditional physics, large systems are typically arranged in regular structures such as lattices of atoms. This regularity facilitates much of our understanding of physical phenomena. In socioeconomic systems (and actually also in biological and technological ones), interactions are instead invariably found to be combined into complex networks with intricate topology. Behind the ‘fat tails’ and ‘burstiness’ observed in financial time series, there lies a complicated network of traders who process and exchange information through many interdependent platforms. Similarly, financial crises propagate through a world-wide network of interwoven banks, firms, and institutions. Understanding the mechanisms by which a financial ‘shock’ originates is a fundamental quest, but in order to ensure financial stability we also need to understand how shocks propagate across the network, and how this network is structured. Unfortunately, the striking heterogeneity of socioeconomic networks makes the problem much more difficult than conventional diffusion on regular physical lattices. Network Theory aims at developing tools to analyse real-world complex networks, and to extend our understanding of dynamical processes to arbitrary networks. For this reason, Econophysics and Network Theory have recently joined forces in a highly promising way.


Aim of the Workshop

This Workshop aims at celebrating the ‘marriage’ between Econophysics and Network Theory by gathering together top scientists, young researchers, practitioners, and experts in both fields. Participants will share their expertise in a joint effort of making progress in the problem of moving back and forth from processes to interactions, and from signals to networks. The workshop emphasizes our need to understand the interactions across the multiple scales of socioeconomic and financial systems mentioned above. The ultimate question that will be addressed is: what is the added value of using network theory in order to study the financial and economic world across all its different scales and levels?



The first four days of the workshop will host both invited and contributed talks, organized around the following ‘challenges’:


Mon 27: micro-scale challenges (interactions among individuals in financial markets);


Tue 28: meso-scale challenges (interactions among firms, banks and institutions);


Wed 29: macro-scale challenges (interactions among and across countries);


Thu 30: cross-scale challenges (interactions extending across all the above scales).


The last day (Fri 31) will be devoted to ‘integrating what we have learnt’ through critical summaries given in the form of four keynote talks, one for each of the above challenges. Unconventionally, these keynote talks will be ‘built together’ as the Workshop proceeds: on the last day, the four keynote speakers will in part present their own research results, and in part integrate all contributions given by the participants over the preceding days, putting them in perspective.


Besides the presence of keynote and invited speakers, an important target of the Workshop is to host discussions and contributions from young scientists and young practitioners. For this reason, submissions are welcome from applicant participants within both a ‘scientist’ track and a ‘practitioner’ track. Submissions will be reviewed and selected either for poster presentation or for short (15 mins) talks. The maximum number of participants (including invited, keynote, and contributing participants) is limited to 55.