Albert-László Barabási

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The native form of this personal name is Barabási Albert-László. This article uses the Western name order.
Albert-László Barabási
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi - Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2012.jpg
Barabási at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in 2012
Born Barabási Albert-László
(1967-03-30) 30 March 1967 (age 47)
Cârţa, Harghita County, Romania
Residence Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality Hungarian
Citizenship Romanian
Hungarian
American
Alma mater University of Bucharest (BS)
Eötvös Loránd University(MS)
Boston University (Ph.D.)
Occupation Physicist
Known for his work in the research of network theory
the concept of scale-free networks
proposal of Barabási–Albert model

Albert-László Barabási (born March 30, 1967) is a Hungarian-American physicist born in Transylvania, Romania, best known for his work in the research of network theory.

He is the former Emil T. Hofmann professor at the University of Notre Dame and current Distinguished Professor and Director of Northeastern University's Center for Complex Network Research (CCNR) and an associate member of the Center of Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University.

He introduced in 1999 the concept of scale-free networks and proposed the Barabási–Albert model to explain their widespread emergence in natural, technological and social systems, from the cellular telephone to the World Wide Web or online communities.

Birth and education[edit]

Barabási was born to an ethnic Hungarian family of the Székely community in Cârţa, Harghita County, Romania. His father, László Barabási, was a historian, museum director and writer, while his mother, Katalin Keresztes, taught literature, and later became director of a children's theater.[1][dead link] He attended a high school specializing in science and mathematics; in the tenth grade, he won a local physics olympiad. Between 1986 and 1989, he studied physics and engineering at the University of Bucharest; during that time, he began doing research on chaos theory, publishing three papers.[1]

In 1989, Barabási emigrated to Hungary, together with his father. In 1991, he received a Master's degree at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, under Tamás Vicsek, before enrolling in the Physics program at Boston University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1994, under the direction of H. Eugene Stanley.[2]

Academic career[edit]

After a one-year postdoc at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Barabási joined the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in 1995. In 2000, at the age of 32, he was named the Emil T. Hofman Professor of Physics, becoming the youngest endowed professor. In 2004 he founded the Center for Complex Network Research. In 2005-2006 he was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University. In Fall, 2007, Barabási left Notre Dame to become the Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Network Science at Northeastern University and to take up an appointment in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

As of 2008, Barabási is a Hungarian, Romanian and U.S. citizen.[3]

Research and achievements[edit]

Barabási has been a major contributor to the development of network science and the statistical physics of complex systems. His biggest role has been the discovery of the scale-free network concept. He reported the scale-free nature of the WWW in 1999 and the same year, in a Science paper with Réka Albert, he proposed the Barabási–Albert model, predicting that growth and preferential attachment are jointly responsible for the emergence of the scale-free property in real networks. According to the review of one of Barabási's books, preferential attachment can be described as follows:

"Barabási has found that the websites that form the network (of the WWW) have certain mathematical properties. The conditions for these properties to occur are threefold. The first is that the network has to be expanding, growing. This precondition of growth is very important as the idea of emergence comes with it. It is constantly evolving and adapting. That condition exists markedly with the world wide web. The second is the condition of preferential attachment, that is, nodes (websites) will wish to link themselves to hubs (websites) with the most connections. The third condition is what is termed competitive fitness which in network terms means its rate of attraction."[4]

He subsequently showed that the scale-free property emerges in biological systems, namely in metabolic networks and protein–protein interaction networks. In a 2001 paper with Reka Albert and Hawoong Jeong he demonstrated the Achilles' Heel property of scale-free networks, showing that such networks are robust to random failures but fragile to attacks. This work is covered in his bestseller general audience book, Linked.

Barabási has also had important contributions to network biology and network medicine. He introduced the concept of diseasome, or disease network, showing how diseases link to each other through shared genes and pioneered the use of large patient data to explore disease comorbidity, linking it to molecular network data.

His work on human dynamics resulted in the discovery of the fat tailed nature of the inter event times in human activity patterns, and proposed the Barabási model[5] that showed that a queuing model was capable of explaining the bursty nature of human activity. This topic is covered by his book Bursts.

His work on network control and observability brought the tools of control theory to network science. It asked how to identify the nodes from which one can control a complex network, just like a car is controlled through three control points, the steering wheel, gas pedal and the brake. By establishing an exact mapping between the dynamical control problem and matching theory, he developed tools to identify the system's control nodes. The same mapping allowed the determination of observers, nodes whose state allows one to reconstruct the state of the full system.

Awards[edit]

Barabási is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. In 2005, he was awarded the FEBS Anniversary Prize for Systems Biology and in 2006 he was awarded the John von Neumann Medal by the John von Neumann Computer Society from Hungary, for outstanding achievements in computer-related science and technology.[6] In 2004 he was elected external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and in 2007 into the Academia Europaea.[7] In 2008 he received the 2008 C&C Prize, Japan "for stimulating innovative research on networks and discovering that the scale-free property is a common feature of various real-world complex networks"[8] and the Cozzarelli Prize, National Academies of Sciences, USA[9] The Lagrange Prize-Crt Foundation was awarded to Barabási in June 2011, and in November 2011 he was awarded Honorary degree Doctor Honoris Causa by Technical University of Madrid.[10]

Trivia[edit]

Barabási has Bacon number one, as he appears in Connected, a documentary about complex networks, together with Kevin Bacon. He is also one of the most cited physicists. His 1999 Science paper was selected by ISI as one of the ten most cited papers in physical sciences, and his Reviews of Modern Physics paper is the most cited paper in the journal's history.

Selected publications[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]