Researching 22nd Century! : People

Dirk Helbing

Chair of Sociology, ETH Zurich; Scientific Coordinato, FutureIC Flagship Proposal


Prof. DIRK HELBING is Chair of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, in ETH Zurich, and the Scientific Coordinator of the FuturICT Flagship Proposal.

DIRK HELBING is the Principal Investigator on a project named FutureICT Knowledge Accelerator and Crisis Relief System, a computing system working on big datasets, conceived as sort of a crystal ball of the world. The core of the system is the Living Earth Simulator, a computing machine attempting “to model global-scale systems — economies, governments, cultural trends, epidemics, agriculture, technological developments, and more — using torrential data streams, sophisticated algorithms, and as much hardware as it takes”. The project currently competing for funding from the European Commission of € 1 billion.

Dirk Helbing is known for the social force model, in particular its application to self-organising phenomena in pedestrian crowds. Besides the slower-is-faster effect, he introduced the freezing-by-heating effect and the phase diagram of congested traffic states. Helbing also proposed a microscopic foundation of evolutionary game theory and has studied self-organized behavioral conventions. Recent work applies principles of collective intelligence and self-organized control to the optimization of urban and freeway traffic. His current research activities focus on norms and conflict, the role of success-driven motion for the establishment of cooperation among selfish individuals, the science of science, socio-inspired technology and techno-social systems, disaster spreading and crisis management.



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