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Statistical Network Science with Applications
This workshop brought together quantitative scientists from various fields to deal with the probabilistic aspects of networks as they manifest themselves in society, economics, biology and epidemiology. The question to each of the contributors was to describe in an accessible way how in their field networks are used. The aim was to give an overview of how to problematize, model, interpret and use networks in various fields in order to achieve cross-fertilization.
A tangible output of the workshop has been a joint EU COST proposal on statistical network science. This proposal brings together approximate 100 people from within the EU and the US with the intention to collaborate on cross-disciplinary approaches to sampling, modelling and inferring networks. The proposal will be submitted at the end of March 2015 to the EU.
Since the workshop took place in April 2013, various collaboration have taken place between its participants. The Sheffield and Groningen group have strengthened ties by one member moving from one to the other institution. Ernst Wit and Luigi Augugliaro have published a paper together. Moreover, a study on social networks development within a secondary school in the Netherlands conducted in the group of Christian Steglich is being analysed by the group of Ernst Wit. Other contacts have also emerged, as it became clear to all participants to the workshop that there were more things to bring us together than set us apart. In fact, several “Aha” moments arose, when it became clear that the same model under different names and perspectives were used in different fields.
The format of the workshop worked very well. All participants stayed in the same hotel and walked together to the Lorentz Center in the early morning. This informal contact meant that it was very easy to address each other from the very first day of the meeting, despite the fact that most people did not know each other beforehand. We had an intensive programme in the mornings, followed by long, informal brainstorming sessions in the afternoons. These sessions worked remarkably well, because they were focussed on how to implement particular aspects (research, training, commercialization) of the COST proposal. This focus gave the discussions a meaningful structure, without collapsing into a static speaker-audience set-up. The late afternoons saw another session, which was followed every evening by a joint dinner.
The support from the Lorentz Center in the organization was very effective and smooth. Every participant felt at home and has complemented the organization and the facilities available at the Lorentz Center@Snellius. I would certainly recommend others organizing a workshop at the Lorentz Center. In fact, as Chair of the European Bernoulli Society, we are considering to apply for another meeting at the Lorentz Center in 2015.