Scope: Mathematical models of “social networks”, i.e., communities of individuals interacting in some way through a proximity graph, have existed for more than 50 years and have been used extensively by Sociologists, Behavioral Scientists, and Economists. The traditional focus has been on obtaining models that capture sociological effects like interpersonal influence (tendency of individuals to be influenced by others), homophily (tendency to associate with other individuals of similar behavior, opinions and characteristics), polarization (tendency of a community to split into two opposite factions), crowd effects (tendency to follow the opinion of the majority), echo chambers (tendency of an isolated community to self-amplify their beliefs), etc. With the advent of on-line social media, the breadth and scope of the research in social network theory has scaled drastically in both size and accuracy, as numbers of interacting individuals have soared, and recorded data streams have rendered the analysis of individual behaviors, preferences, and interpersonal relationships more quantitative than ever before.

Alongside topological notions drawn from network science such as centrality, connectivity, and resilience, in order to capture the emerging behavior of such complex system there is also a need to adopt a system perspective, and to rely on dynamical systems analysis tools familiar to the Control community. It is not surprising that the last few years have witnessed a steep increase of the number of researchers from this community involved into social network theory.

The aim of this special issue is to consolidate this trend, by giving a broad overview of the state of the art of the field, gathering together various samples of on-going research in the field, and presenting relevant research opportunities on dynamics and behaviors in social networks in which the control community could play a key role. In particular, we would like to also invite contributions by joint teams (e.g., from control systems and social sciences or economics) describing in control terms some challenges faced by the social scientists in their understanding of the opinion dynamics phenomena, or recent unexplained observations. We expect to receive papers dealing with concepts such as dynamical modeling, stability, robustness, influence of network topology on the dynamics, but also parametric identification, and perhaps even the use of feedback. The Special Issue is focused mostly on papers with methodological contribution, but interdisciplinary papers containing also experimental research will also be considered.

Specific Topics include (but not limited to)
  • Opinion dynamics
  • Network games
  • Distributed decision-making
  • Targeting and interventions in social networks
  • Epidemic spreading over networks
  • Emerging dynamics of collective behaviors
  •  Influences as control actions
  • Social systems inference and identification from data
Important Dates
  • Submissions open: June 15, 2020
  • Submissions deadline: December 20, 2020
  • Completion of first round review: January 2021
  • Acceptance: June 2021
  • Final submission due: August 2021
  • Tentative publication date: September 2021
Submission Details

Information on the submission process and manuscript format can be found at:

Guest Editors

  • Claudio Altafini, Department of Electrical Engineering Linkoping University, SE-58183 Linkoping, Sweden;
  • Giacomo Como, Department of Mathematical Sciences Politecnico Di Torino, Torino, Italy;
  • Julien M. Hendrickx, Department of Mathematical Engineering, ICTEAM Institute, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium;
  • Alexander Olshevsky, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Boston University, Boston, MA, USA;
  • Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, Kellogg School of Management Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA;