Research topics

My research is at the interface between network science, dynamics, and control theory.
Below, I briefly describe five topics that I have recently been working on (in alphabetic order). The descriptions are accompanied by links to representative papers or presentations.

1- Animal Groups: Modeling, Analysis and Experimental Validation

Animals congregate for a variety of goals, including efficient motion, foraging, and defence against predation. In collaboration with researchers from Rutgers University (Camden), IAC Rome and University of Salerno, I have proposed a new family of mathematical models that can help understanding group behaviors. Our model features both forces of attraction and of repulsion between the animals and postulates that animals are influenced by a limited number of neighbors. This approach has proved successful in describing starlings' habit of resting on telephone wires.

2- (Cyber-)Social Systems: Modeling, Analysis, and Control

Social networks and the opinion dynamics that take place on them are a fascinating topic that touches on everyone's lives. My work, which has developed in collaboration with Politecnico di Torino, University of Twente, MIT and Tokyo Tech, has two main objectives. First, understanding the effects of certain dynamical features (such as discontinuities or randomness) on the long-time evolution of the opinions. Second, finding out how leaders can optimally influence a network of open-minded individuals.

3- Non-smooth and Hybrid Dynamics in Multi-agent Systems

Multi-agent systems are affected by limitations in the inter-agent communications, which include quantization and switches between different communication patterns. These "discrete" effects, combined with the underlying "continuous" evolution of the agents' physical state, imply hybrid and non-smooth dynamics. These dynamics require refined mathematical tools to be dealt with.

4- Randomized Dynamics over Networks

In networks of dynamical agents, interactions can be asynchronous and irregular. The randomness of the interactions can be imposed by the nature of the interaction (eg, face-to-face contacts between humans) or be a design choice in technological systems. In both technological and social systems, I have assessed the consequences of randomness and proposed algorithms that can cope with it.

5- Robotic Networks and Coordination

I believe that coordinating and optimally deploying teams of robots/sensors/vehicles is instrumental to future engineering systems. In collaboration with UC Santa Barbara and Louvain, I have studied several mathematical questions that have a foundational role in these challenges.