Albert-László Barabási

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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
Barabási Albert László

(1967-03-30) March 30, 1967 (age 54)
Alma materUniversity of Bucharest (BS)
Eötvös Loránd University (MS)
Boston University (PhD)
Known forResearch of network theory
the concept of scale-free networks
Proposal of Barabási–Albert model
Scientific career
ThesisGrowth and roughening of non-equilibrium interfaces (1994)
Doctoral advisorH. Eugene Stanley
Doctoral studentsGinestra Bianconi

Albert-László Barabási (born March 30, 1967) is a Romanian-born Hungarian-American physicist, 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) associate member of the Center of Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University, and visiting professor at the Center for Network Science[1] at Central European 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. He is the Founding President of the Network Science Society,[2] which grew out of and sponsors the flagship NetSci conference held yearly since 2006.

Birth and education[edit]

Barabási was born to an ethnic Hungarian family in Cârța, 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.[3] 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.[3]

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 PhD in 1994. His thesis, written under the direction of H. Eugene Stanley,[4] was titled Growth and roughening of non-equilibrium interfaces.[5]

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 2005–06 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 holds Hungarian, Romanian and U.S. citizenship.[6][7][8]

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 independent rediscovery 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, an undirected version of the Price model,[9] 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."[10]

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 Réka 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.[11]

Barabási's contributions to network biology and network medicine include introducing 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.[12]

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[13] that showed that a queuing model was capable of explaining the bursty nature of human activity. This topic is covered by his book Bursts.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


In 2014, Lior Pachter and his student Nicolas Bray published a three-part analysis of what they deemed questionable papers in computational biology, including some of Barabási's work. They argued that Barabási has an undeserved reputation for brilliance, because Barabási publicizes his work far more intensely than his critics disseminate their refutations. Pachter and Bray provide a small list of examples, in which Barabási's work was subsequently analyzed to be trivially refutable after publication.[14]

Outside computational biology, critiques have identified various flaws in the methodology of Barabási's articles on the scale-freeness of the Web,[15][16] the ubiquity of power-laws in general,[17] and the ubiquity of scale-free networks more specifically,[18] his theories on network control[19] and the dynamics of human activities.[20][21] Barabási has also been particularly criticised for failing to acknowledge the contribution of Derek de Solla Price to the scale-free network concept, whose model of citation networks predated the BA model.[22] The BA model is an undirected version of the Price model, although many properties of the two models do not depend on the directedness of edges.[23]


He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2003.[24] 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.[25]

In 2004, he was elected as an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was inducted into the Academia Europaea.[26][21]

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"[27] and the Cozzarelli Prize, National Academies of Sciences (USA)[28]

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.[29] In 2017 he received the Senior scientific award of the Complex Systems Society for "setting the basis of what is now modern Network Science".[30] In 2018 Barabási has received an honorary doctorate from Utrecht University at the occasion of her 382th Dies Natalis.[31]

In June 2018 he was elected member of the Romanian Academy of Sciences.[32]

The Bolyai Prize was awarded to Mr. Barabási in May 2019 by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, handed over by the President of Hungary, János Áder.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Barabási, Albert-László, The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success, November 6, 2018; ISBN 0-316-50549-8 (hardcover)
  • Barabási, Albert-László (2018). Network science. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107076266.
  • Barabási, Albert-László, Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do, April 29, 2010; ISBN 0-525-95160-1 (hardcover)
  • Barabási, Albert-László, Linked: The New Science of Networks, 2002. ISBN 0-452-28439-2 (pbk)
  • Barabási, Albert-László and Réka Albert, "Emergence of scaling in random networks", Science, 286:509–512, October 15, 1999
  • Barabási, Albert-László and Zoltán Oltvai, "Network Biology", Nature Reviews Genetics 5, 101–113 (2004)
  • Barabási, Albert-László, Mark Newman and Duncan J. Watts, The Structure and Dynamics of Networks, 2006; ISBN 0-691-11357-2
  • Barabási, Albert-László, Natali Gulbahce, and Joseph Loscalzo, "Network Medicine", Nature Reviews Genetics 12, 56–68 (2011)
  • Réka Albert, Hawoong Jeong & Barabási, Albert-László (1999). "The Diameter of the WWW". Nature. 401 (6749): 130–31. arXiv:cond-mat/9907038. Bibcode:1999Natur.401..130A. doi:10.1038/43601. S2CID 4419938.
  • Y.-Y. Liu, J.-J. Slotine, A.-L. Barabási, "Controllability of complex networks", Nature 473, 167–173 (2011)
  • Y.-Y. Liu, J.-J. Slotine, A.-L. Barabási, "Observability of complex systems", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, 1–6 (2013)
  • Baruch Barzel and A.-L. Barabási, "Universality in Network Dynamics", Nature Physics 9, 673–681 (2013)
  • Baruch Barzel and A.-L. Barabási, "Network link prediction by global silencing of indirect correlations", Nature Biotechnology 31, 720–725 (2013)
  • B. Barzel Y.-Y. Liu and A.-L. Barabási, "Constructing minimal models for complex system dynamics", Nature Communications 6, 7186 (2015)


  1. ^ People at Center for Network Science, Central European University website; accessed January 10, 2016.
  2. ^ "NetSci – the Network Science Society".
  3. ^ a b Dale Keiger, "Looking for the next big thing", Notre Dame Magazine, vol. 36 (Spring 2007), no. 1, 49–53 Archived May 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "H. Eugene Stanley: Ph.D. Theses Supervised". Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Albert-László Barabási at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  6. ^ "Albert-László Barabási CV" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  7. ^ "ETSI de Telecomunicación: ALBERT LASZLÓ BARABÁSI". Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  8. ^ "Albert-László Barabási – Khoury College of Computer Sciences". Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  9. ^ Price, Derek De Solla (September 1976). "A general theory of bibliometric and other cumulative advantage processes". Journal of the American Society for Information Science. 27 (5): 292–306. doi:10.1002/asi.4630270505.
  10. ^ Profile Archived March 9, 2005, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 10 January 2016.
  11. ^ Barabási, Albert-László (July 21, 2016). Network science. Cambridge, United Kingdom. ISBN 9781107076266.
  12. ^ Barabási, Albert-László; Gulbahce, Natali; Loscalzo, Joseph (January 2011). "Network medicine: a network-based approach to human disease". Nature Reviews Genetics. 12 (1): 56–68. doi:10.1038/nrg2918. PMC 3140052. PMID 21164525.
  13. ^ A.-L. Barabási (2005). "The origin of bursts and heavy tails in human dynamics". Nature. 435 (7039): 207–11. arXiv:cond-mat/0505371. Bibcode:2005Natur.435..207B. doi:10.1038/nature03459. PMID 15889093. S2CID 4419475.
  14. ^ "The network nonsense of Albert-László Barabási". February 10, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  15. ^ Willinger, Walter; Alderson, David; Doyle, John C (2009). "Mathematics and the Internet: a source of enormous confusion and great potential" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 56 (5): 586–599. MR 2509062.
  16. ^ Adamic, Lada A.; Huberman, Bernardo A. (January 31, 2000). "Comment to "Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks" (cond-mat/9910332)". arXiv:cond-mat/0001459. Bibcode:2000cond.mat..1459A. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Clauset, Aaron; Shalizi, Cosma Rohilla; Newman, M. E. J. (2009). "Power-Law Distributions in Empirical Data". SIAM Review. 51 (4): 661–703. arXiv:0706.1062. Bibcode:2009SIAMR..51..661C. doi:10.1137/070710111. S2CID 9155618.
  18. ^ Broido, Anna D.; Clauset, Aaron (2019). "Scale-free networks are rare". Nature Communications. 10 (1): 1017. arXiv:1801.03400. Bibcode:2019NatCo..10.1017B. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-08746-5. PMC 6399239. PMID 30833554.
  19. ^ Cowan, Noah J.; Chastain, Erick J.; Vilhena, Daril A.; Freudenberg, James S.; Bergstrom, Carl T. (2012). "Nodal Dynamics, Not Degree Distributions, Determine the Structural Controllability of Complex Networks". PLOS ONE. 7 (6): e38398. arXiv:1106.2573. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...738398C. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038398. PMC 3382243. PMID 22761682.
  20. ^ Barabási, Albert-László; Malmgren, R. Dean; Amaral, Luis A. N. (2005). "Comment on Barabasi, Nature 435, 207 (2005)". arXiv:physics/0510216.
  21. ^ a b "The network nonsense of Albert-László Barabási". February 10, 2014.
  22. ^ Newman, M. E. J. (January 2003). "The Structure and Function of Complex Networks". SIAM Review. 45 (2): 167–256. arXiv:cond-mat/0303516. Bibcode:2003SIAMR..45..167N. doi:10.1137/s003614450342480. S2CID 221278130.
  23. ^ Newman, M. E. J. (July 4, 2018). Networks (Second ed.). Oxford. ISBN 9780192527493.
  24. ^ "APS Fellow Archive". APS. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  25. ^ "Barabasi co edits new book and is awarded computing medal". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  26. ^ "Northeastern Physicist Albert-László Barabási Receives Prestigious Honor for Exemplary Contributions to Interdisciplinary Science" Archived August 26, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Northeastern University website; accessed January 10, 2016.
  27. ^ "NEC C&C Foundation". Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  28. ^ "PNAS announces 2008 Cozzarelli Prize recipients". EurekAlert!. February 23, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  29. ^ [1] Archived January 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "CSS Awards". Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  31. ^ "Honorary doctorate for Prof. Albert-László Barabási". Utrecht University. March 27, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  32. ^ "Comunicat de presă - Academia Română – AGERPRES".

External links[edit]