THE LAB

The BarabasiLab, also known as The Center for Complex Network Research at Northeastern University, has changed the way the world understands networks. For 25 years, under the leadership of Albert-László Barabási, the Lab has been developing the visual vocabulary of complexity based on the team’s pioneering research into a broad range of topics, from protein interactions to success in the art world. Their 2-D visualizations, 3-D data sculptures, and virtual reality environments have made complex scientific concepts approachable and relatable, offering a window into how the many systems that govern our world actually function. From the first simplistic diagrams to today’s elaborate aesthetic creations, the Lab’s visualization work has evolved into an expressive language that creates a new relationship between art and science.

TEAM

DIRECTOR

Albert-László Barabási

Albert-László Barabási is a network scientist, fascinated with a wide range of topics, from unveiling the structure of the brain to treating diseases using network medicine, from the emergence of success in art to how does science really works. His work has helped unveil the hidden order behind various complex systems using the quantitative tools of network science, a research field that he pioneered, and lead to the discovery of scale-free networks, helping explain the emergence of many natural, technological and social networks.

Albert-László Barabási spends most of his time in Boston, where is the Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science at Northeastern University, and holds an appointment in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. But he splits his time with Budapest, where he runs an European Research Council project at Central European University. A Hungarian born native of Transylvania, Romania, he received his Masters in Theoretical Physics at the Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary and Ph.D. three years later at Boston University.

Barabási’s latest book is The Formula (Little Brown, 2018). He is the author of “Network Science” (Cambridge, 2016). "Linked" (Penguin, 2002), and "Bursts:" (Dutton, 2010) He co-edited Network Medicine (Harvard, 2017) and "The Structure and Dynamics of Networks" (Princeton, 2005). His books have been translated in over twenty languages.

BOOKS

Q&A

Networks, Visualizations, and the Breaking of Scientific Boundaries

Albert-László Barabási in Conversation with András Szántó

Diversity can only be understood from the perspective of universality. You’re diverse in comparison to what? Universality is the unavoidable reference frame if you want to talk about diversity.

The I’ll give you an example from physics: hundreds of years ago, people believed there were different gods responsible for tides and waves on the seas, for the movement of the stars, and for why we fall down if we don’t pay attention. Then Newton came along and showed that all these phenomena have a single explanation: gravity. Once that was understood, it was possible to start exploring diversity, capturing the many different ways gravity manifests itself.

Similarly, we cannot truly understand diversity and differences until we first understand what is universal about the human existence and experience. This is not to say there is no value to thinking about diversity—that is what I do every day. But these countless independent choices and actions do add up to something larger than you and me. Which is why we must view diversity in the light of universality.

Was there something you got from your immersion in art that helped to push or catalyze your thinking?

For me, the most inspiring thing about art is the fact that artistic expression lacks boundaries. It is willing to freely experiment with different media and technologies, and it possesses an unrestrained freedom to mix and utilize ideas. As soon as we started to study networks, I began appropriating concepts from the art world—not only to visualize networks, but also to think about them.

The story inside the art world in recent decades has been about breaking down universality, in search of a more diverse, de-centered art discourse. There is much anxiety about universal laws in the humanities. You are arguing that behind the multitude of everyday occurrences, universal laws are alive and well.

Our biological and physical existence depends on networks. Cells are networks of genes and molecules, and life as we know it is a result of interactions between them. Our consciousness is the result of the network of interactions of the billion or so neurons in our brain. We communicate via networks: through telephone, email, and social networks. And our economy is a giant network of buyers and sellers, economic transactions connecting a vast layer of actors.

Can you give me a capsule summary—a kind of elevator pitch—about the core ideas driving network science?

Our biological and physical existence depends on networks. Cells are networks of genes and molecules, and life as we know it is a result of interactions between them. Our consciousness is the result of the network of interactions of the billion or so neurons in our brain. We communicate via networks: through telephone, email, and social networks. And our economy is a giant network of buyers and sellers, economic transactions connecting a vast layer of actors.

The twenty-first century is the century of networks. To be sure, some of these networks were in existence for over a billion years. Many, however, came about in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. And it was only in this century that we have truly come to understand the fundamental importance of connectedness—the way in which networks shape our lives. The science of networks has emerged as a response to this understanding.

Design Team

Csaba Both

PhD Student

LAB ALUMNI

Kim Albrecht
Szuyu Chen
Alice Grishchenko
Mauro Martino

 

 

 

 

JOBS

April 4, 2021

Data Visualization Research Specialist

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Position Summary

The Data Visualization Research Specialist must possess a unique ability to represent visually complex network data prepared by an interdisciplinary group of physicists, biologists, and computer scientists using various forms of visual design and software development programs. Must be able to use creativity and professional judgment in order to resolve design and technical challenges. Must be adaptable to a constantly evolving collaborative and interdisciplinary workflow.

Responsibilities

  • PRINT: Create figures ready for scientific publications, presentations, exhibitions, and sharing online (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign)
  • INTERACTIVE: Work on a wide range of 2D and 3D interactive media including websites, data visualizations, and vr/ar applications (Html5, Css4, D3, Three.js, AngularJS, python, flask)
  • 3D: Prepare 3D models for the 3D printing pipeline or interactive applications. Create renderings for print and video (Maya, Renderman)
  • VIDEO: Create time-based media to accompany and document research (Premiere, After Effects)

Basic Qualifications ‍

  • A portfolio of related work
  • Bachelor's degree in design or a related field
  • 4-6 years experience with Adobe Creative Suite Software
  • 4-6 years experience with Web Development/Management
  • Experience in the complete product development lifecycle of successfully launched web and/or software applications is preferred

Instructions

Interested candidates may apply here: https://careers.hrm.northeastern.edu/en-us/job/502412/data-visualization-research-specialist.

PRESS

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What is the blueprint for market success? A new study of Foundation finds some hints in the data.

New York Times: The Hidden World of NFTs

The Art Market Often Works in Secret. Here’s a Look Inside.

Artnet News: In a World Where Decisions Are Driven by Data

Our columnist looks at some data-based scandals from other fields - and argues that "Dataism" might help art avoid the same fate.

NYT: What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries Right Now

Want to see new art in New York this weekend? Start in Chelsea to catch a retrospective of photographs by Diane Arbus that caused a sensation in the 1970s. Then head to Do Ho Suh's latest anti-monumental exhibition. And don't miss Albert-Laszlo Barabasi and Fernanda Gomes in SoHo.

Northeastern's Barabasi Receives Prestigious Prize from the American Physical Society

The American Physical Society selected Northeastern University professor Albert-László Barabási to receive the 2023 Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize for his innovative work on the statistical physics of networks.

Albert-Laslo Barabasi: Nutritional Dark Matter

Albert-László Barabási is an author, physicist and world renowned network theorist. Vance and Laszlo discuss the many aspects of networks, how ideas spread into society, and why they are useful for modeling various types of systems. They also discuss 'nutritional dark matter' and what networks can teach us about nutrition's impact on total health.

Why the World Needs 'Dataism,' the New Art Movement That Helps Us Understand How Our World Is Shaped by Big Data

The head of the scientist-and-artist collective BarabasiLab reflects on the transformative power of data in art.