SC11 Language Dynamics: Models, Data and Experiments.


We will start by discussing the complex-systems approach to modelling and multi-agent models. Then we will focus on the study of the spontaneous emergence of consensus. We will address the case of simple linguistic conventions and survey different attempts to study them, ranging from modelling to data science approaches and to experiments with human subjects. Focusing on the simple Naming Game, we will highlight how different arrangements of the population, i.e., different social networks, affect the collective dynamics of agreement. Finally, we will discuss the case of category systems. We will show that a simple multi-agent model reproduces quantitatively many statistical properties of the empirical data, unveiling how cognition shapes cultural evolution


Understanding the dynamics of spontaneous emergence of consensus, and in particular the role of the social network and the interplay between cognition and cultural evolution.


D. Centola and A. Baronchelli The spontaneous emergence of conventions: An experimental study of cultural evolution Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112, 1989 (2015)

A. Baronchelli, T. Gong, A. Puglisi and V. Loreto Modeling the emergence of universality in color naming patterns Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107, 2403 (2010)

A. Baronchelli, M. Felici, V. Loreto, E. Caglioti and L. Steels Sharp transition towards shared vocabularies in multi-agent systems J. Stat. Mech. P06014 (2006)

Course location


Course requirements


Instructor information.

Instructor's name

Andrea Baronchelli


cf. website


Andrea Baronchelli is a Lecturer at City, University of London, which he joined in Sept. 2013 after research experiences in the US (Northeastern University, Boston MA), Spain (Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona) and Italy (Sapienza University of Rome). The methods he has employed so far include mathematical modelling, numerical simulations, big-data analysis and experiments with human subjects. His current research includes the spontaneous emergence of social consensus, human exploration of physical and mental spaces, and collective dynamics in online and offline social networks. At a more fundamental level, he investigates the properties of complex networks and the way in which they affect the dynamical processes taking place upon them.