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Language and Network Science

Satellite Symposium to NetSci 2013

As a follow-up to LangNetSci 2012, we are pleased to announce the second Satellite Symposium at NetSci on Language and Network Science.

Date: Monday June 3, 2013
Time: 9:00 – 18:00
Location: DTU Copenhagen (Campus in Lyngby, 15 km north of Copenhagen)
Building: DTU Mødecenter, Seminar room S04

Registration: Please contact us by email if you would like to participate (Gareth Baxter, The symposium itself is free.

We are organizing a full day symposium, with four or five contributions from invited speakers, with the remainder of the program reserved for submitted contributions. This gives lesser known researchers a chance to contribute, and the possibility to discover new and interesting research of which we are not currently aware. Speakers will be given 30 minutes each, to allow them to go into as much depth as possible. The speakers and attendees are expected to come from diverse disciplines (linguistics, psychology, computer science, physics, anthropology etc.), so many of the concepts and results will be novel to many members of the audience. Our aim is to give as much depth of discussion as possible, to allow meaningful interaction across disciplines. To this end, we scheduled longer breaks, and time for general discussion at the end of the day. This format was very successful last year, with lively discussion engaged in by many speakers and audience members.


Language and Network Science – LangNetSci2013

The study of language is one of many areas of the humanities that in recent times has begun to benefit from the adoption of ideas from other sciences, interdisciplinary approaches, mathematical models, complex systems thinking. Networks are a natural paradigm, and are ubiquitous in such studies: the phylogenetic tree of languages (which, in fact was an inspiration for Darwin, an early investigator of complex systems!) (Gray & Atkinson, 2003), networks of semantic meanings (De Deyne et al., 2012; Mehler & Stegbauer 2012; Masucci et al., 2011; Morais et al., 2013), phonological networks of words (Carlson et al., 2011; Vitevitch et al., 2012), social networks in categorization and language change (Gong et al., 2012; Baxter et al., 2008), lexical networks (Mehler et al., 2012) and even networks of spelling in word games, used to map cognitive methods in navigation (Iyengar et al., 2012) and use of semantic networks in clinical diagnosis (Borge-Holthoefer et al., 2011).

Key to this development is the coming together of experts in relevant areas of application (linguistics, psychology etc.) with physicists, computer scientists, mathematicians and researchers in other technical disciplines. Those building models and making calculations need input from experts in the relevant fields of application to develop realistic and meaningful results. Those in the human sciences benefit from the introduction of new tools and perspectives from technical disciplines to study their chosen field. Face to face meetings and presentation of results, ideas and techniques are the most effective way to stimulate new thinking, new collaborations, and to get immediate feedback on developing research. We have organized a satellite symposium to NetSci 2013 to facilitate exactly this process. The meeting will consist of a full day of in depth talks from researchers in a broad range of areas, with time for discussion and informal interaction.

The symposium will be the second LangNetSci meeting. The first was held as a satellite to NetSci'12 in Evanston last year (LangNetSci 2012). In that meeting speakers discussed a broad variety of topics, such as the impact of phonological networks on learning, exploring semantic networks in Wikipedia, social networks in language change models, and the role of networks in understanding the dynamics of social media. The meeting was characterized by a friendly, open and informal atmosphere, with free and active discussion emerging frequently in breaks and frequent questions and curiosity from the audience during talks. This indicates the appetite and interest for such a meeting. A single combined session on a small to medium scale allows everyone to hear everyone's ideas. Discussion is easier. It not only allows sharing of ideas and expertise between the humanities and sciences, but within each of these groups, researchers may see new possibilities by being exposed to ideas in different branches (e.g. those working on semantic networks may see something useful in a talk about consensus formation in social settings), and to see a broader picture.

There is now an active and growing community of researchers from a variety of disciplines who share a common interest in language, interdisciplinary collaboration and the network paradigm to understand and explore their various research questions. We organize LangNetSci'13 as a chance for these researchers once again to come together, exchange and develop ideas, which we hope will stimulate their research in the future.


  1. R. D. Gray & Q. D. Atkinson (2003), Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin , Nature 426, 435-439.
  2. S. De Deyne, D. J. Navarro , A. Perfors, & G. Storms (2012), Strong structure in weak semantic similarity: A graph based account , Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
  3. A. Mehler, & C. Stegbauer (2012), On the self-similarity of intertextual structures in Wikipedia, in Proceedings of the First ACM International Workshop on Hot Topics on Interdisciplinary Social Networks Research (HotSocial '12), ACM, New York, NY, USA, 65-68.
  4. A.P. Masucci, A. Kalampokis, V.M. Eguíluz, E. Hernández-García (2011), Wikipedia information flow analysis reveals the scale-free architecture of the Semantic Space, PLoS ONE 6(2): e17333.
  5. A. S. Morais, H. Olsson, & L. J. Schooler (2013), Mapping the structure of semantic memory, Cognitive Science 37, 125-145.
  6. M. T. Carlson, M. Bane, & M. Sonderegger (2011), Global properties of the phonological networks in child and child-directed speech. in N. Danis, K. Mesh, & H. Sung (Eds.) Proceedings of the 35th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 97-109). Vol. 1. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  7. M.S. Vitevitch, K.Y. Chan, & S. Roodenrys (2012), Complex network structure influences processing in long-term and short-term memory, Journal of Memory & Language 67, 30-44.
  8. T. Gong, A. Baronchelli, A. Puglisi and V. Loreto (2012), Exploring the roles of complex networks in linguistic categorization, Artificial Life 18(1): 107.
  9. G. J. Baxter, R. A. Blythe, & A. J. McKane (2008), Fixation and consensus times on a network: a unified approach , Physical Review Letters 101, 258701.
  10. A. Mehler, A. Lücking, & P. Menke (2012), Assessing Cognitive Alignment in Different Types of Dialog by means of a Network Model , in Neural Networks, vol. 32, pp. 159-164.
  11. S. R. S. Iyengar , K. A. Zweig , N. Gupta, & C. E. V. Madhavan (2012), Understanding Human Navigation with Network Analysis , Topics in Cognitive Science 4(1), 121–134.
  12. J. Borge-Holthoefer, Y. Moreno, & A. Arenas (2011), Modeling Abnormal Priming in Alzheimer’s Patients with a Free Association Network. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22651.


Note: The satellite symposium on Language and Network Science – LangNetSci2013 – is sponsored by the GSCL.