Month: October 2020

Assessing the risks of ‘infodemics’ in response to COVID-19 epidemics

Riccardo GallottiFrancesco ValleNicola CastaldoPierluigi Sacco & Manlio De Domenico

Nature Human Behaviour (2020)


During COVID-19, governments and the public are fighting not only a pandemic but also a co-evolving infodemic—the rapid and far-reaching spread of information of questionable quality. We analysed more than 100 million Twitter messages posted worldwide during the early stages of epidemic spread across countries (from 22 January to 10 March 2020) and classified the reliability of the news being circulated. We developed an Infodemic Risk Index to capture the magnitude of exposure to unreliable news across countries. We found that measurable waves of potentially unreliable information preceded the rise of COVID-19 infections, exposing entire countries to falsehoods that pose a serious threat to public health. As infections started to rise, reliable information quickly became more dominant, and Twitter content shifted towards more credible informational sources. Infodemic early-warning signals provide important cues for misinformation mitigation by means of adequate communication strategies.


Multiple Resource Use Strategies and Resilience of a Socio-Ecosystem in a Natural Protected Area in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Luis Guillermo García-Jácome, Eduardo García-Frapolli, Martha Bonilla-Moheno, Coral E. Rangel-Rivera, Mariana Benítez, and Gabriel Ramos-Fernández

Front. Sustain. Food Syst., 28 October 2020


As the world faces unprecedented ecological and social changes, there is a need to better understand the complex dynamics of social-ecological systems (SES) and the mechanisms that underlie their resilience. In Mexico, Natural Protected Areas (NPAs) constitute complex SES as they are generally established on territories that different peoples have historically inhabited and managed. They generally manage their resources following a multiple use strategy (MUS), which involves local traditional agricultural practices and has been proposed as a resilience-enhancing mechanism. In this paper we study the MUS as practiced by the Yucatec Maya communities that inhabit the NPA Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh and its buffer zone in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Due to the restrictions imposed by the decree of the reserve and the growth of tourism in the region, some of these communities have started to abandon the MUS and specialize on tourism-related activities. To study the consequences of these changes and to better understand the mechanisms by which the MUS may enhance the resilience of this SES, we built an evidence-based dynamical computational model that allows us to explore different virtual scenarios. The model, through the incorporation of agent-based and boolean network modeling, explores the interaction between the forest, the monkey population and some productive activities done by the households (milpa agriculture, ecotourism, agriculture, charcoal production). We calibrated the model, explored its sensibility, compared it with empirical data and simulated different management scenarios. Our results support the hypothesis that the MUS enhances the resilience of this SES in terms of income and food availability, as it increases the system’s response diversity and functional redundancy, thus reducing income variability and increasing the resistance to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. We also identify other possible mechanisms related with the MUS that provide a more nuanced understanding of the resilience of this SES. Our study, in addition to highlighting the importance of local management practices for resilience, also puts forward a novel integration of diverse mathematical formalisms and illustrates how computational modeling and a systems perspective are effective means of integrating and synthesizing information from different sources.


Sky Highway Design for Dense Traffic

Quan Quan, Mengxin Li


The number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) continues to explode. Within the total spectrum of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is also on the way. Dense air traffic is getting ever closer to us. Current research either focuses on traffic network design and route design for safety purpose or swarm control in open airspace to contain large volume of UAVs. In order to achieve a tradeoff between safety and volumes of UAVs, a sky highway with its basic operation for Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV is proposed, where traffic network, route and swarm control design are all considered. In the sky highway, each UAV will have its route, and an airway like a highway road can allow many UAVs to perform free flight. The geometrical structure of the proposed sky highway with corresponding flight modes to support dense traffic is studied one by one. The effectiveness of the proposed sky highway is shown by the given demonstration.


Isotopy and energy of physical networks

Yanchen Liu, Nima Dehmamy & Albert-László Barabási 
Nature Physics (2020)


While the structural characteristics of a network are uniquely determined by its adjacency matrix in physical networks, such as the brain or the vascular system, the network’s three-dimensional layout also affects the system’s structure and function. We lack, however, the tools to distinguish physical networks with identical wiring but different geometrical layouts. To address this need, here we introduce the concept of network isotopy, representing different network layouts that can be transformed into one another without link crossings, and show that a single quantity, the graph linking number, captures the entangledness of a layout, defining distinct isotopy classes. We find that a network’s elastic energy depends linearly on the graph linking number, indicating that each local tangle offers an independent contribution to the total energy. This finding allows us to formulate a statistical model for the formation of tangles in physical networks. We apply the developed framework to a diverse set of real physical networks, finding that the mouse connectome is more entangled than expected based on optimal wiring.