Welcome to the second cycle of highly interdisciplinary Scientific Colloquia

Each colloquium starts with a 50-minute-long seminar by an expert in the field, followed by interactive discussion with the audience. The talks are aimed primarily at PhD students, and young researchers, but are open to all those interested.

These events are organized by the PhD programs in “Advanced Mathematical and Physical Sciences for Advanced Materials and Technologies”, “Cosmology, Space Science and Space Technology” and “Modeling and Engineering Risk and Complexity”.

Next Colloquium

From resilience assessment to design for resilience:
what is missing?

Paolo Franchin

Professor at Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, “Sapienza” University of Rome – Italy

14 July 2022 – 2 pm CEST

Where: Classroom 4 at Scuola superiore Meridionale, and broadcast online on Zoom

How to join online:
Meeting room: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84144212706?pwd=R0dzT3NpS3ZESFd5TjR1Y2U5Qzg0dz09
Meeting ID: 841 4421 2706
Passcode: ssm_zoom

AbstractMost of the literature on community resilience is devoted to its assessment. To move from analysis to design, tools to enhance resilience are needed. Since a community is a system, in discussing strategies to enhance resilience, we focus on the role played by systemic analysis, i.e., the analysis of the built environment modelled considering interdependences, rather than the simple collection of its physical assets. Interdependent models of the multiple infrastructural systems are first introduced. Research needs are then identified, which include challenges in network modelling, the replacement of generic fragility models for the components, and how to deal with an evolving state of information.

Short bio: Paolo Franchin obtained his MSc and PhD in Civil Structural Engineering from University of Rome La Sapienza, and a MSc from University of California, Berkeley. His research in the broader field of Earthquake Engineering focuses on Seismic Risk and Resilience Assessment of Structural and Infrastructural Systems. He teaches Seismic Design and Assessment to Engineering and Architecture students. He took part in several EU-funded collaborative research projects as well as risk-related projects funded by the Italian Civil Protection. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of “Earthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics”, “Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering”, “Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructures” and “Progettazione Sismica”. He is a member of the International Federation for Structural Concrete, fib, Convener of its TG2.7 Seismic Design, and Member of the Action Group on Seismic design of TG10 “Model Code 2020”. He is also a member of: IASSAR, the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability (Technical Committee 3: System Reliability and Optimization); the Doctoral School in Structural and Geotechnical Engineering at Sapienza; the Scientific Committee of the EUCENTRE Foundation as well as a faculty of the European School in Reduction of Seismic Risk, both in Pavia. Former member of CEN/TC250/SC10/Ad hoc group on “Reliability bases of the Eurocodes”, CEN/TC250/SC8 Project team for the revision of Eurocode 8 Part 3 “Assessment and retrofitting of buildings” and leader of the Project team for the revision of Eurocode 8 Part 2 “Design of structures for earthquake resistance – Part 2: Bridges”, he is now part of the Management group finalizing the European seismic design and assessment normatives. He has extensive consulting experience in special problems involving seismic design, assessment and retrofit of existing bridges and buildings.

Program 2021 – 2022

Exploring the early Universe through the cosmic microwave background
4 November 2021 – 3 pm CET   |   Paolo Natoli, Professor at Department of Physics and Earth Science, Ferrara University – Italy
Slides   |   Video

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Abstract: I will present the tightest observational bounds available on the early Universe, largely based on the legacy of the ESA Planck satellite. The emergent cosmological picture is well consistent with a simple Lambda Cold Dark Matter model arising out of an inflationary scenario. We do see, however, small quirks in the data that may or may not hint at new physics. High accuracy measurements expected within the next decade, particularly by the LiteBIRD mission aimed at CMB polarization, will prove critical for our understanding of the early universe. They are expected to push the model tests to unprecedented precision, shed light on the observed anomalies, and provide a direct window to cosmic Inflation by constraining the predicted background of primordial gravitational waves.

Short bio: Paolo Natoli is full professor at the University of Ferrara where he founded the local cosmology group in 2011. He was previously associate professor in Ferrara and, earlier on, a researcher at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. He got a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rome in 2000. Paolo’s main field of expertise is the cosmic microwave background radiation, with a preference for phenomenology and data analysis. He has contributed to several pioneering experiments of the field, including ESA’s Planck, for which he has co-led one of its core cosmology projects. His current main project is LiteBIRD a JAXA satellite to study primordial inflation. He currently serves as chair of the LiteBIRD European Steering Committee. Paolo has co-authored more than 200 refereed publications and mentored over thirty students and postdocs: his brief CV can be found here. Besides research, he teaches cosmology for master degree students and special relativity for undergraduates. He enjoys doing outreach.

Evolution by curvature of networks in the plane
11 November 2021 – 2 pm CET   |   Carlo Mantegazza, Professor at University of Naples Federico II and Scuola Superiore Meridionale – Italy
Slides   |   Video

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Abstract: I will present the state-of-the-art of the problem of the motion by curvature of a network of curves in the plane, discussing existence, uniqueness, singularity formation and asymptotic behavior of the flow.

Short bio: Carlo Mantegazza is Full Professor of Mathematical Analysis at the Department of Mathematics and Applications “Renato Caccioppoli” of University of Naples Federico II. He is also member of both the PhD college in “Mathematical and Physical Sciences for Advanced Materials and Technologies” of the SSM and the PhD college in Mathematics and Applications of the aforementioned Department. He manages (together with Gennaro Miele and Massimiliano Giorgio) the Undergraduate Courses of the Scientific Area of the SSM.

Turbulent dynamics in viscous fluids: a complex phenomenon ubiquitous in nature

18 November 2021 – 2 pm CET   |   Vincenzo Carbone, Professor at Department of Physics, Calabria University – Italy
Slides

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Abstract: The turbulence problem in viscous fluids is one of the still open issues in classical physics, with problems involving both purely theoretical-mathematical issues and engineering applications. Indeed, turbulent dynamics is present everywhere in fluid flows at high Reynolds numbers, which is the normal condition for a natural fluid, both on earth and in astrophysics. Turbulence is the result of non-linear dynamics, and it is a universal phenomenon, in the sense that some characteristics are common to different application areas, so the phenomenon is also an excellent benchmark for models in this field. In this seminar we will address the main issues related to turbulence, identifying the main universal characteristics of turbulent dynamics, in an attempt to answer the three fundamental questions about the phenomenon posed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Short bio: Vincenzo Carbone is full professor at the Physics Department of the University of Calabria – Sector 02/C1 – Astronomy, Astrophysics, Physics of the Earth and Planets, SSD FIS/06 – Physics of the Earth System and Circum-terrestrial Medium. He is Coordinator of the Quality Assurance of the Calabria University until 2015 and director of the Department of Physics, and member of the Academic Senate of the same  university, until 31 October 2021.  He is also co-founder and president until 2018 of the national group Space Weather Italian Community (SWICO) for the study of Sun Earth relations. Author of more than 200 papers published on international journals, his main research interests lie in the general field of Physics of Complex Systems, with particular regard to non-linear effects related to the physics of interplanetary space and the Sun-Earth system. In this field he has mainly dealt with problems concerning the dynamics of chaotic and turbulent systems, space meteorology and climatology, terrestrial climatology and paleoclimatology, the physics of geo-magnetic field inversions and extrasolar planetary systems. He has also worked on statistical applications and physical models to problems related to general seismicity and extragalactic astronomy.  

Graphons: a tool for the analysis of systems on large networks
25 November 2021 – 2 pm CET   |   Paolo Frasca, Researcher at Centre national de la recherche scientifique – France
Slides

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AbstractGraphons are emerging as a valuable tool to study large networks in multiple disciplines such as machine learning, signal processing, and control systems. Graphons are continuous limits of large graphs when the number fo their nodes goes to infinity. Therefore, suitable properties of the graphons can be informative about the properties of large-but-finite networks, and about the properties of dynamics that take place on such large-but-finite networks. In this talk, I will show some examples of this approximation paradigm, beginning with the stability of epidemic models.

Short bio: Paolo Frasca received the Ph.D. degree in Mathematics for Engineering Sciences from Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in 2009. Between 2008 and 2013, he has held research and visiting positions at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA), at the IAC-CNR (Rome, Italy), at the University of Salerno (Italy), and at the Politecnico di Torino (Italy). From 2013 to 2016, he has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. He has been a visiting professor at LAAS, Toulouse, France in 2016 and at the University of Cagliari, Italy, in 2017. He is Research Associate at CNR-IEIIT, Turin, Italy. Since October 2016, he is a CNRS researcher at GIPSA-lab, Grenoble, France. 
His research interests are in the theory of network systems and cyber-physical systems, with main applications in transportation and social networks. On these topics, Dr. Frasca has (co)authored more than fifty journal papers and has given invited talks at several international institutions and events, including the 2015 SICE International Symposium on Control Systems in Tokyo. He is a recipient of the 2013 SIAG/CST Best SICON Paper Prize. 
Dr. Frasca has served as Associate Editor for numerous conferences (IEEE CDC, ACC, ECC, MTNS, IFAC NecSys) and for journals (International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control, IEEE Control Systems Letters) and is currently serving as Associate Editor for Automatica and the Asian Journal of Control.

Hyperuniform States of Matter and Their Novel Transport Properties
2 December 2021 – 2 pm CET   |   Salvatore Torquato, Professor at Department of Physics, Princeton University – USA
Slides

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AbstractI will discuss the study of hyperuniform states of matter, which is an emerging multidisciplinary field, influencing and linking developments across the physical sciences, mathematics and biology [1,2]. A hyperuniform many-particle system in is characterized by an anomalous suppression of large-scale density fluctuations relative to those in typical disordered systems. Thus, the hyperuniformity concept generalizes the traditional notion of long-range order to include not only all perfect crystals and quasicrystals, but also exotic disordered states of matter. This hybrid crystal-liquid attribute endows them with unique or nearly optimal, direction-independent physical properties and robustness against defects [2,3].

1. S. Torquato and F. H. Stillinger, “Local Density Fluctuations, Hyperuniform Systems, and Order Metrics,” Phys. Rev. E, 68, 041113 (2003).
2. S. Torquato, “Hyperuniform States of Matter,” Phys. Reports, 745, 1 (2018).
3. S. Torquato and J. Kim, “Nonlocal Effective Electromagnetic Wave Characteristics of Composite Media: Beyond the Quasistatic Regime,” Phys. Rev. X, 11, 021002 (2021).

Short bioSalvatore Torquato is an American theoretical scientist born in Falerna, Italy.
Torquato’s research work is centered in statistical mechanics and soft condensed matter theory. A common theme of his research is the search for unifying and rigorous principles to elucidate a broad range of physical phenomena. His current work focuses on theory of heterogeneous materials, self-assembly theory, disordered and ordered particle packings, liquids, glasses, quasicrystals, crystals, hyperuniform materials, design of materials via inverse optimization techniques, and biophysics. He has published over 446 journal refereed articles and a treatise entitled “Random Heterogeneous Materials.” Torquato’s published work has been cited about 46,700 times and his h-index is 113, according to Google Scholar.
Among other awards and honors, he is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He was the recipient of the ACS Joel Hildebrand Award in Theoretical Chemistry of Liquids, APS David Adler Lectureship Award in Material Physics, SIAM Ralph E. Kleinman Prize, Society of Engineering Science William Prager Medal and ASME Richards Memorial Award. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and was awarded a Simons Foundation Fellowship in Theoretical Physics.

 

Structure, processes and dynamics of networks with higher order interactions
9 December 2021 – 2 pm CET   |   Stefano Boccaletti, Director of research at CNR – Institute of Complex Systems, Sesto Fiorentino – Italy
Video

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Abstract: All the beauty, richness and harmony in the emergent dynamics of a complex system largely depend on the specific way in which its elementary components interact. The last twenty years have seen the birth and development of the multidisciplinary field ofNetwork Science, wherein a variety of distributed systems in physics, biology, social sciences and engineering have been modelled as networks of coupled units, in the attempt to unveil the mechanisms underneath their observed functionality. But there is a fundamental limit in such a representation: networks capture only pairwise interactions, whereas the function of many real-world systems not only involves dyadic connections, but rather is the outcome of collective actions at the level of groups of nodes. For instance, in ecological systems, three or more species may compete for food or territory, and similar multi-component interactions appear in functional and structural brain networks, protein interaction networks, semantic networks, multi-authors scientific collaborations, offline and online social networks, gene regulatory networks and spreading of consensus or contagious diseases due to multiple, simultaneous, contacts. Such multi-component interactions can only be grasped through either hypergraphs or simplicial complexes, which indeed have recently found a huge number of applications in social and biological contexts, as well as in engineering and brain science. These structures are indeed becoming increasingly relevant, thanks to the enhanced resolution of data sets and the recent advances in data analysis techniques, which (concurrently and definitely) have shown that they play a pivotal role in the complex organization and functioning of real-world distributed systems. In my talk, I will describe a series of relevant problems which arise when one goes beyond the limit of pairwise interactions in a networked system. In particular, I will try to focus on some structural issues of these new objects, such as the need of properly redefining centrality and rankings of nodes, as well as on a series of new emerging phenomenologies that appear in processes and dynamics taking place on top of such new objects.

Short bio: Stefano Boccaletti is Director of Research at the Institute of Complex Systems of the Italian CNR, in Florence. His major scientific interests are pattern formation and competition in extended media, chaos recognition, control and synchronization, and the structure and dynamics of complex networks. He has been Scientific Attache’ of the Italian Embassy in Israel during the years 2007-2011 and 2014-2018. He is Editor in Chief of the Journal “Chaos, Solitons and Fractals” (Elsevier) from 2013, and member of the Academia Europaea since 2016. He is Author of more than 350 original papers, which received more than 29,000 citations. His monograph ¨Complex Networks: Structure and Dynamics¨, published in Physics Reports on 2006 converted into the most quoted paper ever appeared in the Annals of that Journal.

 

Social network dynamics leading to community formation and residential segregation
16 December 2021 – 2 pm CET   |   Massimo Franceschetti, Professor at Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, California University – USA
Slides  |  Video

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Abstract: In the 1960’s Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling came up with a dynamical system model predicting that racial segregation of neighborhoods arises even in the absence of racist sentiments, so long as individuals prefer to live adjacent to at least a small number of neighbors of their same type. In short: even moderate individual preferences regarding neighbors types can lead to global, undesired consequences. Although the model is quite simple, it gives a fascinating description at how individuals might self-segregate, even when they have no explicit desire to do so, and provides insight about the relationship between a system and its parts, or between “micro motives” and “macro behaviors.”
In this talk, we provide a rigorous formulation of this phenomenon in terms of a long-range interacting particle system, and provide additional insights in the evolution and final configuration of this dynamical system. First, we discuss a “shape theorem” for the spreading of the “affected” nodes in the network, namely nodes responsible for the formation of large segregated regions. This is the first result that precisely describes the transient dynamics of the model and shows a cascading process that creates segregated regions that are close to monochromatic balls with exponential radius in a given metric. We then study the limiting size of the largest monochromatic region, for a given interval of the agents’ preferences, showing that after a sufficiently long evolution time segregation occurs with high probability, and any agent is contained in a large monochromatic region of exponential size. This is the first high probability result for the two-dimensional version of the model. We also show that exponentially large almost monochromatic regions, namely regions where the fraction of nodes of the minority color vanishes, are expected for a wider interval of the individual preferences. We conclude by making some general considerations on the possible ways to avoid segregation in social networks, given the insights provided by these results.

Based on joint work with Hamed Omidvar.

Short bio: Massimo Franceschetti received the Laurea degree (with honors) in Computer Engineering from the University of Naples, Naples, Italy, in 1997, the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, in 1999, and 2003, respectively. He is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Before joining UCSD, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at Berkeley for two years. He is coauthor of the book “Random Networks for Communication” and author of the book “Wave Theory of Information,” both published by Cambridge University Press. He was awarded the C. H. Wilts Prize in 2003 for best doctoral thesis in Electrical Engineering at Caltech; the S.A. Schelkunoff Award in 2005 for best paper in the IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award in 2006, an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award in 2007, the IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award in 2010, and the IEEE Control Theory Society Ruberti young researcher award in 2012. He became an IEEE Fellow in 2018 and a Guggenheim Fellow for Natural Sciences, Engineering, in 2019.

Climate meets complexity: Exploring predictability of extreme climate events via a complex network approach
13 January 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Jürgen Kurths, Professor at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Institute of Physics, Humboldt University, Berlin – Germany
Slides  |  Video

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AbstractThe Earth system is a very complex and dynamical one basing on various feedbacks. This makes predictions and risk analysis even of very strong (sometime extreme) events as floods, landslides, heatwaves, and earthquakes etc. a challenging task. After introducing physical models for weather forecast already in 1922 by L.F. Richardson, a fundamental open problem has been the understanding of basic physical mechanisms and exploring anthropogenic influences on climate. In 2021 Hasselmann and Manabe got the Physics Nobel Price for their pioneering works on this. I will shortly review their main seminal contributions. Next, I will introduce a recently developed approach via complex networks mainly to analyze strong climate events. This leads to an inverse problem: Is there a backbone-like structure underlying the climate system? To treat this problem, we have proposed a method to reconstruct and analyze a complex network from data. This approach enables us to uncover relations to global and regional circulation patterns in oceans and atmosphere, which leads to construct substantially better predictions, in particular for the onset of the Indian Summer Monsoon and extreme rainfall in South America and tropical cyclones but also to understand phase transition in the past climate.

References:
– N. Boers, B. Bookhagen, H.M.J. Barbosa, N. Marwan, J. Kurths, J.A. Marengo, Nature Comm. 5, 5199 (2014)
– V. Stolbova, E. Surovyatkina, B. Bookhagen, and J. Kurths, Geophys. Res. Lett. (2016) 
– D. Eroglu, F. McRobie, I. Ozken, T. Stemler, K. Wyrwoll, S. Breitenbach, N. Marwan, J. Kurths, Nature Comm. 7, 12929 (2016)
– B. Goswami, N. Boers, A. Rheinwalt, N. Marwan, J. Heitzig, S. Breitenbach, J. Kurths, Nature Communications 9, 48 (2018)
– N. Boers, B. Goswami, A. Rheinwalt, B. Bookhagen, B. Hoskins, J. Kurths, Nature 566, 373 (2019)
– J. Meng, J. Fan, J. Ludescher, A. Agarwal, X. Chen, A. Bunde, J. Kurths, H. Schellnhuber, PNAS 117, 177 (2020)
– Z. Lu, N. Yuan, Q. Yang, Z. Ma, Z., J. Kurths, Geophysical Research Letters 48, e2020GL091674 (2021)
– S. Gupta, N. Boers, F. Pappenberger, J. Kurths, Climate Dynamics
– https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-021-05871-0 (2021)

Short bio: He is German physicist and mathematician. He is a chair of the research domain Transdisciplinary Concepts of the Potsdam Institute for Climate ImpactResearch and Professor of Nonlinear Dynamics at the Institute of Physics at the Humboldt University, Berlin. His research is mainly concerned with nonlinear physics and complex systems sciences and their applications to challenging problems in Earth system, physiology, systems biology and engineering. Jürgen Kurths is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Academia Europaea. He received an Alexander von Humboldt research award and was awarded the L.F. Richardson Medal of the European Geosciences Union. He was bestowed with several Dr. honoris causa and several honorary professorships. He was a Burgers Visiting Professor at University of Maryland and is a Chapman Professor at the University of Alaska (Fairbanks). His H-index is 85 and he is a highly cited researcher.

 

The challenge of gravitational wave detectors of the 3rd generation. Cultural and technological aspects
20 January 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Ettore Majorana, Professor at Physics Department, Sapienza University of Rome – Italy

Slides | Video

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Abstract: The concept of the so-called Third Generation Gravitational Wave Detectors (3G) is more than years old and was conceived well before gravitational wave first observations and the advanced use of a detector network. The amazing boost of scientific analyses granted by gravitational waves, aimed to reconstruct aspects of the universe that would be otherwise unreachable, has rekindled the concept of 3G detectors, whose sensitivity should be maximum achievable from the Earth’s ground. Indeed, projecting the concept to the practice implies several challenges. The goal of the colloquium is to introduce the new-born science based upon gravitational waves and to enlighten the crucial aspects of 3G detectors, focusing on the European one: The Einstein Telescope.

Short bio: Ettore Maiorana is a full professor at the Sapienza University of Rome. He has been involved since his PhD in the development of experimental gravitational wave detectors. Initially (1989), with the group in Rome led by Prof. G. Pizzella (cryogenic resonant bar detectors, electromechanical transducers) and then moving on to broadband detectors in 1994 with the Virgo group (Dr. A. Giazotto) and the former Japanese group (now KAGRA). He worked mainly as an experimental physicist for INFN at the Rome site and later became a full professor at La Sapienza in 2020. He spent most of his research efforts on Virgo, where he worked on several fundamental issues concerning the design test-mass and payload implementation, alignment, control and the suspension and damping system. Prof. Maiorana’s current record is 370 articles, with a Scopus h-index of 82. Currently, he is leading a PRIN (2020) focused on the prototyping of cryogenic payload for ET.

Space Weather: Science or Application?
27 January 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Lucilla Alfonsi, Researcher at Upper Atmosphere Physics and Radiopropagation Unit, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome – Italy
Slides  |  Video

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Abstract: According to the European Space Agency, Space weather refers to the environmental conditions in Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere due to the Sun and the solar wind that can influence the functioning and reliability of space borne and ground-based systems and services or endanger property or human health. As the several branches of application, the theme is very alive all over the world and carried out by teams representing different competences. The seminar offers an overview of the physical mechanisms triggering the extreme events to highlight the space weather complexity and to represent the competences necessary to develop effective mitigation and forecasting strategies. A special focus is given to the ionized part of the atmosphere, the ionosphere, that, with its only existence poses serious threats to the navigation and communication systems.

Short bioLucilla Alfonsi is Researcher at INGV Upper Atmosphere Physics and Radiopropagation Unit, where she takes part, often with a leading role, to the scientific studies on the upper atmosphere related to space weather applications, particularly about the investigation of ionospheric irregularities from ground based, as well as from in situ measurements. She is also an expert on the investigation of the long-term changes of the upper atmosphere on a planetary scale in the frame of Global Change studies and on the design and development of ionospheric scintillations models. She participated to Arctic and Antarctic expeditions to install and maintain upper atmosphere observatories. She has been coordinator of several research projects on the upper atmosphere impact on technological systems to support navigation and communication operations. She has more than 10 years of experience on training undergraduate and PhD students, and post-doc researchers on space weather topics. She has also a long experience in outreach about geophysics and polar sciences to not-expert public and stakeholders. She is the author of almost 80 papers and she acts as reviewer for several scientific publications and research project proposals. She is currently Associated Editor of “Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate” and of “Annals of Geophysics”.

The quest of quantum advantage with a photonics platform
3 February 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Fabio Sciarrino, Full Professor at the Physics Department of the University of Rome La Sapienza and Senior Research Fellow at the International School for Advanced Studies Sapienza, SSAS, Rome – Italy
Slides  |  Video

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Abstract: In recent years, much work has been directed to the development of technologies for universal quantum computers. Despite the very significant advances in quantum technologies reported in the last few years, the implementation of a large-scale universal quantum computer is still far from today current capabilities. Hence, intermediate milestones need to be identified in the long-term effort towards harnessing the computational potential of quantum systems. A first fundamental step in this direction is the achievement of the regime of quantum computational supremacy (also called quantum advantage), i.e., the experimental demonstration of a quantum device capable of performing a computational task unambiguously faster than classical computers.  Boson sampling is a computational problem that has been proposed as a candidate to obtain an unequivocal quantum computational advantage. There is strong evidence that such an experiment is hard to classically simulate, but it is naturally solved by dedicated photonic quantum hardware, comprising single photons, integrated photonic circuits, and photodetection. This prospect has stimulated much effort resulting in the experimental implementation of progressively larger devices. We will review recent advances in photonic boson sampling, describing both the technological improvements achieved and the future challenges. 

Short bio: Fabio Sciarrino is Full Professor at the Physics Department of the University of Rome La Sapienza and Senior Research Fellow at the International School for Advanced Studies Sapienza, SSAS. He is Principal Investigator of the Quantum Information Lab, Department of Physics, Sapienza University of Rome (www.quantumlab.it). His main expertise is experimental quantum optics, computation and quantum information, and foundations of quantum mechanics. In recent years his research activity has focused on the implementation of quantum information protocols via integrated photonic circuits, with particular interest for Boson Sampling, a non-universal computational model with promising characteristics to achieve the quantum supremacy regime. In 2012 he was awarded an ERC-Starting Grant Consolidator funded by the European Research Council for his project on integrated quantum photonics. He was European coordinator of the Marie Curie Network PICQUE project of the Future and Emerging Technologies project QUCHIP. He is author of more than 200 publications in international journals (with more than 25 publications on Nature and Science journals) and over 150 invited presentations to national and international conferences. He is currently coordinator of the European FET Open Project PHOQUSING and has been awarded as principal investigator of ERC (European Research Council) Advanced Grant QU-BOSS.

Enlightening the Universe with high-energy cosmic neutrinos
10 February 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Marco Chianese, Researcher at University of Naples Federico II – Italy.

Sildes | Video

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Abstract: Neutrino telescopes have ushered us into a new era for astroparticle physics. Soon after the neutrino observations by IceCube, the pioneering cubic kilometer-sized neutrino telescope located at the geographic South Pole, high-energy neutrinos have been identified as a key diagnostic tool for physics and astrophysics. Indeed, if analyzed in a multi-messenger context, they can help us in clarifying the acceleration of (hadronic) cosmic rays in both the Galactic and the extragalactic environments, have a potential for unveiling new classes of astrophysical sources, and perhaps shed light on some of the deepest mystery in current physics, like the nature of dark matter. However, there exists no compelling explanation for their origin, yet. In this colloquium, I will review the latest observations by neutrino telescopes and discuss current interpretations of neutrino and gamma-ray data with both astrophysical sources and dark matter signals. Eventually, I will show that these scenarios will be firmly probed by future joint observations of high-energy neutrinos and gamma-rays with upcoming telescopes.

Short bio: After getting his Ph.D. in Naples in 2017, Marco Chianese moved to the Southampton University in the United Kingdom for a 1-year postdoc. Then, he was a postdoc for two years at the center of excellence for Gravitation and Astroparticle Physics at the University of Amsterdam (GRAPPA). Since 2021, he is a research fellow at the University of Naples Federico II. In the last few years, his research activity has been mostly focused on indirect probes of dark matter exploiting multimessenger astrophysical data, the study of dark matter models beyond the paradigm of “Weakly Interacting Massive particle”, and the investigation of phenomenological and theoretical frameworks linking the dark sector to neutrino physics. He is currently involved in several projects aiming at understanding the origin of the diffuse high-energy neutrino flux observed by IceCube neutrino telescope and at examining the sensitivity of future neutrino and gamma-ray telescopes to dark matter signals and, more generally, to physics beyond the standard model of electroweak interactions.

The needle in the haystack: the search for rare processes and the fundamental laws of Nature
17 February 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Fabio Ambrosino, Professor at University of Naples Federico II – Italy

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Abstract: Why and how do particle physicists struggle to measure extremely rare or even “forbidden” processes? How does this approach compare to the search for new phenomena at the highest attainable energies?  Almost surprisingly, the highest energy scales can be probed in an effective way using certain low energy phenomena sensitive to small deviations from the expectations given by the Standard Model of fundamental interactions. Starting with a journey through the historical triumphs of particle physics achieved in the study of rare processes, we will arrive at current day experimental and technological challenges and give a glimpse into possible future scenarios.

Short bio: Fabio Ambrosino is full professor of Experimental Physics of Fundamental Interactions at the University Federico II in Naples and is part of the faculty of the MPHS doctoral program of the Scuola Superiore Meridionale. He has been working on elementary particle physics with accelerators, particle detectors and their applications since the 1990s. He worked at the National Laboratories of Frascati of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and collaborates permanently with CERN since 2005. His activity is mainly devoted to the study of physics at the “intensity frontier” that is the study of rare processes as a key to observe possible scenarios of physics beyond the Standard Model. He proposed and built the CHANTI detector of the NA62 experiment at CERN (2009-2015) and was Italy’s Principal Investigator of the experiment (nine institutions, about seventy physicists) from 2017 to 2021. He is part of the Naples’ research group that, among the firsts in Europe, has designed and operated systems for muon radiography of volcanoes and underground cavities. He is author of more than two hundred publications in international journals, and of several chapters in scientific books on particle physics, particle detectors and their applications.

From Neural PDEs to Neural Operators: Blending data and physics for fast predictions
24 February 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   George Em Karniadakis, The Charles Pitts Robinson and John Palmer Barstow Professor of Applied Mathematics and Engineering, Brown University – USA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology – USA; Northwest National Laboratory – USA

Video

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Abstract: We will review physics-informed neural network and summarize available extensions for applications in computational mechanics and beyond. We will also introduce new NNs that learn functionals and nonlinear operators from functions and corresponding responses for system identification. The universal approximation theorem of operators is suggestive of the potential of NNs in learning from scattered data any continuous operator or complex system. We first generalize the theorem to deep neural networks, and subsequently we apply it to design a new composite NN with small generalization error, the deep operator network (DeepONet), consisting of a NN for encoding the discrete input function space (branch net) and another NN for encoding the domain of the output functions (trunk net). We demonstrate that DeepONet can learn various explicit operators, e.g., integrals, Laplace transforms and fractional Laplacians, as well as implicit operators that represent deterministic and stochastic differential equations. More generally, DeepOnet can learn multiscale operators spanning across many scales and trained by diverse sources of data simultaneously.

Short bioGeorge Karniadakis is from Crete. He received his S.M. and Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1984/87). He was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and subsequently he joined the Center for Turbulence Research at Stanford / Nasa Ames. He joined Princeton University as Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and as Associate Faculty in the Program of Applied and Computational Mathematics. He was a Visiting Professor at Caltech in 1993 in the Aeronautics Department and joined Brown University as Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Center for Fluid Mechanics in 1994. After becoming a full professor in 1996, he continued to be a Visiting Professor and Senior Lecturer of Ocean/Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He is member of the National Academy of Engineering, an AAAS Fellow (2018-), Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM, 2010-), Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS, 2004-), Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME, 2003-) and Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA, 2006-). He received the SIAM/ACM Prize on Computational Science & Engineering (2021), the Alexander von Humboldt award in 2017, the SIAM Ralf E Kleinman award (2015), the J. Tinsley Oden Medal (2013), and the CFD award (2007) by the US Association in Computational Mechanics. His h-index is 118 and he has been cited over 62,000 times.

An overview of the transient sky at high-energies
03 March 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Andrea Sanna, Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Cagliari – Italy

Slides | Video

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Abstract: Among the numerous classes of transients, accreting millisecond X-ray pulsars (AMXPs), and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) have direct links with most of the hottest scientific topics, such as the strong gravity regime, relativistic shocks, particle acceleration processes, equation of state of matter at nuclear density, and nucleosynthesis of heavy elements, just to mention a few.

AMXPs are extremely fast-rotating Neutron Stars (NS), that have been spun-up as the result of a long-lasting mass transfer from a low-mass companion star through an accretion disc. At the end of the mass transfer phase, a millisecond pulsar shining from radio to gamma-rays, and powered by the rotation of its magnetic field, is expected to turn on. The close link shared by radio millisecond pulsars and AMXPs has been observationally confirmed recently by the transitional binary systems IGR J18245-2452. Here I will highlight what we know and what we have still to learn about AMXPs to fully understand their (sometimes puzzling) behavior.

GRBs are extremely energetic transient emissions of gamma-rays, associated either with the death of massive stars or the merger of compact objects in binary systems. The latter scenario has been beautifully confirmed from the nearly-simultaneous detection of gravitational waves from the coalescence of the NS-NS binary system and the associate short GRB 170817A. Their huge luminosities involve the presence of a newborn stellar-mass black hole emitting a relativistic collimated outflow, which accelerates particles and produces non-thermal emissions from the radio domain to the highest energies. In this framework, I will give an overview of the HERMES Technological and Scientific pathfinders currently under development that consist of a fleet of six 3U CubeSats to be launched in equatorial Low Earth Orbits by 2023, which aim at demonstrating the feasibility to monitor the hard X-ray/soft gamma-ray sky with good localization capabilities (crucial to fully exploit the multi-messenger astronomy, currently in its infant state) taking advantage of distributed astronomy.

Short bio: Andrea Sanna is currently Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Cagliari.
In 2008 he graduated in Physics at the University of Cagliari, and then he started his Ph.D. program in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Kapteyn Institute of Groningen (NL). In 2013 he discussed (cum laude) my Ph.D. thesis “Accretion flow properties of low-mass X-ray binaries”.
From 2013 up to 2021 he worked as a PostDoc and Research Fellow at the University of Cagliari.
His research experience focuses mostly on the study of galactic binary systems harboring a compact object (neutron stars or black holes) accreting matter from a companion star, which allows us to study the geometry of the accretion flow, the physical parameters of the compact objects, and the behavior of matter in extreme physical conditions, namely strong gravitational and high magnetic fields. His research activity is based on a theoretical and observational approach, mostly using data coming from X-ray satellites e.g., RXTE, XMM-Newton, Suzaku, Swift, Chandra, NuSTAR, AstroSAT, and NICER.
Since 2018, he is part of the scientific team involved in the feasibility study of the H.E.R.M.E.S. (High Energy Rapid Modular Ensemble of Satellites) project, which is a mission concept based on a constellation of nano-satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), hosting new miniaturized detectors to probe the X-ray temporal emission of bright high-energy transients such as Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRB) and the electromagnetic counterparts of Gravitational Wave Events. Currently, he is the Principal Investigator Assistant for the H.E.R.M.E.S. Pathfinder project funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) and the leader of the Work Packages ‘Mission Definition‘ and “Scientific Operation Centre” for the H.E.R.M.E.S. Scientific Pathfinder funded by the European Community (H2020).

Global and cluster synchronization in complex networks and beyond

10 March 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Mattia Frasca, Professor at Department of Computer Science and Electronic Engeinering, University of Catania – Italy

Slides  |  Video

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AbstractIn this talk I will start introducing synchronization in complex networks and, in particular, I will focus both on the case where all the units of the complex system are synchronized each other and to the case where nodes split into clusters of synchronous behavior. I will show how it is possible to influence the network topology to induce any arbitrary clustering of the nodes. The second part of the talk will then focus on dynamical units coupled with interactions that go beyond pairwise. I will discuss the role of these many-body interactions in the onset of synchronization and show special cases where the analysis of stability of synchronization can be carried out by a particularly simple master equation. Finally, I will show some examples of cluster synchronization in structures including these many-body interactions.

Short bio: Mattia Frasca graduated in electronics engineering, in 2000. He received the Ph.D. degree in electronics and automation engineering from the University of Catania, Italy, in 2003. He is currently an Associate Professor the University of Catania and teaches process control and complex adaptive systems. He published six books and more than 250 papers on refereed international journals and proceedings. 
He is the coauthor of two international patents. His research interests include nonlinear systems and chaos, complex networks, and bio-inspired robotics. He was one of the organizers of the 10th “Experimental Chaos Conference,” the Co-Chair of the “4th International Conference on Physics and Control,” and the Chair of the “European Conference on Circuit Theory and Design 2017.” He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Complex Networks and an Editor of Chaos, Solitons and Fractals. From 2012 to 2015, he served as an Associate Editor for the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS—I: REGULAR PAPERS. He has been the President of the Italian Society for Chaos and Complexity (SICC) for the period 2018–2021.

High Energy X-ray Astrophysics from Space: revealing the backbones of the Universe
17 March 2022 – 2 pm CET   |  Maurizio Paolillo, Full professor of Astrophysics at the Federico II University, Naples – Italy

Slides | Video

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Abstract:Since the ’60s of last century the development of space technology has allowed us to explore the Universe in regions of the electromagnetic spectrum that were inaccessible before. The birth of the new field of High-Energy Astrophysics (which resulted in the Nobel prize to R.Giacconi) has revealed a pletora of new and in large part unforeseen physical phenomena, challenging the scientific community to accept the existence of new exotic astrophysical objects (e.g. Neutron Stars, Black Holes), to test fundamental physical theories (e.g. Gravitation and Relativity), to imagine new constituents of the Universe (dark matter, dark energy). I will present a personal overview of the field focusing on deep X-ray observations.

Short bio: Maurizio Paolillo is Full Professor of Astrophysics at the Department of Physics of the Federico II University and research associate at INAF. He was Senior Scientist at ASI, and local responsible for national and international projects such as “Wide Field X-ray Telescope”, “A high energy view of galaxies and groups the local Universe”, “Quasars at High-Redshift: Physics and Cosmology”, “Cosmology beyond the CDM paradigm with QSOs and GRBs”, “Fornax Cluster Imaging and Spectroscopic Deep Survey” funded by ASI and INAF. Graduated in Physics in Naples in 1998, he got his PhD in 2002 at the University of Palermo, with long visits to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (USA). He was post-doctoral fellow at the Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore (USA), in the group of Prof. R. Giacconi (Nobel Prize in Physics 2002). He is co-author of over two hundred publications and has taught courses in Astrophysics and High Energy Astrophysics since 2004. His work focuses on the study of Active Galactic Nuclei and of High Energy phenomena in the Universe, and he is currently a member of several international collaborations based on terrestrial and space observatories including LSST, Athena, Euclid.

The search for Earth-like exoplanets in the Galaxy
24 March 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   ‪Giovanni Covone, Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Department of Physics, Federico II University, Naples – Italy

Slides | Video

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Abstract: In the search for other worlds, the last decades have been among the most fruitful and exciting since the discovery of the Jupiter moons by Galileo Galilei. Efficient observational programs have provided evidence that planets are common in the Galaxy, with many surprising and unexpected results. I will review the large series of the observational and theoretical breakthroughs in this field in the last two decades, focusing on the search and characterization for Earth-like planets and the future search for evidence of life on distant exoplanets.

Short bio: Giovanni Covone obtained his PhD in Physics in 2000 at the University Federico II of Naples and spent part of his PhD at MIT (Cambridge, USA). He has then worked at the Galileo National Telescope (Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain) for one year, and then for 3 years at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (France), as Young Researcher in Euro3D Research Training Network. He then moved for one year at the Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte (Naples) and since November 2008 he is working at the University Federico II of Naples.
His main research topics are observational cosmology (study of dark matter in cosmic structures), the search for Earth-like extrasolar planets and exobiology (the study of the astrophysical conditions that allow life). He is also interested in the History of Astronomy, in particular the development of science in the Hellenistic period.
At the moment, he teaches the following courses: “Cosmology” (at the Department of Physics), “Fundamentals of Physics and Cosmology” for students of the Master’s Degree in Philosophy and “Astrophysics of Life” at the Biology Department.

From basic principles in Spintronics to some recent developments toward spin-orbitronics
31 March 2022 – 2 pm CEST   |   ‪Vincent Cros, Unité Mixte de Physique, CNRS, Thales, Université Paris-Saclay, 91767, Palaiseau – France

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Abstract: Classical spintronic devices use the exchange interaction between conduction electron spins and local spins in magnetic materials to create spin-polarized currents or to manipulate nanomagnets by spin transfer torques. This fundamental phenomena has led in the last two decades to important breakthroughs for cutting-edge applications in Information and Communication Technologies. A novel direction of spintronics – that can be called spin-orbitronics – exploits the Spin-Orbit Coupling (SOC) in nonmagnetic materials instead of the exchange interaction in magnetic materials to generate, detect or exploit spin-polarized currents. This opens the way to spin devices made of only nonmagnetic materials and operated without magnetic fields. After an introduction of basic concepts of spintronics and a quick review of some of its applications, I will present recent advances in two directions of spin-orbitronics : (i) efficient conversion between charge and spin currents by SOC and, (ii) stabilization and dynamics of topological spin textures, such as magnetic skyrmions.

Short bio: Vincent Cros obtained a doctoral degree in Material Science in 1996 from University Denis Diderot (Paris, France) where he studied the magnetic and transport properties of magnetic multilayers and nanostructures under the supervision of Pr. A. Fert. During the first year of his Ph.D., he worked on the interlayer exchange coupling at the Institüt für FestkörperForschung in Jülich (Germany) supervised by Pr. P. Grünberg. After receiving his degree, he worked one year as Assistant Professor at the University of Paris Sud where he studied the spin dependent Coulomb blockade effect in single electron devices. Then he joined the group of Pr. R. Miranda (University Autonoma de Madrid, Spain) as Marie Curie Fellow postdoc to investigate the mechanisms of surfactant-assisted growth of magnetic multilayers. In 1998, he was appointed as researcher by the French National Science Agency (CNRS) at the joint CNRS/Thales research lab (Palaiseau, France), where he rapidly focused his research on spin transfer phenomena and created a team working on this topic. From 2000 to 2005, he performed among some pioneer investigations of spin transfer phenomena and notably, on the first experimental demonstration of spin transfer induced magnetization reversal of magnetization without any applied magnetic field. Then he extended his work, to high frequency magnetization dynamics induced by spin torque and its related radiofrequency properties of spintronics devices. His current research interests include: noise properties, nonlinear phenomena and synchronization of spin torque oscillators; Spin transfer dynamics generated by spin-orbit torques and more recently the physics of magnetic skyrmions in nanostructures and their potential application in a novel generation of spintronic devices. He is author of about 220 articles in scientific journals and filled 23 patents on spintronic devices. In 2013, he received the Carnot prize from the French Academy of Sciences for his work in spintronics.

Capillary surfaces and a model of nanowire growth
07 April 2022 – 2 pm CEST   |   Massimiliano Morini, Professor at Dipartimento di Scienze Matematiche, Fisiche e Informatiche at University of Parma – Italy

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Abstract: After reviewing the classical variational  formulation of the capillarity problem and some  related results, we  consider a model for vapor-liquid-solid growth of nanowires proposed in the physical literature. In this model, liquid drops are described as local or global volume-constrained minimizers of the capillarity energy outside a semi-infinite convex obstacle modeling the nanowire. We first address the existence of global minimizers and then, in the case of rotationally symmetric nanowires, we investigate how the presence of a sharp edge affects the shape of local minimizers and the validity of Young’s law.

Short bio: Massimiliano Morini obtained his PhD in Mathematics  in 2001 at the International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)  of Trieste.  He has then worked as a postdoctoral associate at the Center of Nonlinear Analysis of Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh (USA) from 2001 to 2004. He then moved back to the SISSA of Trieste as a Researcher, before moving to the University of Parma in December 2010 first as  Associate Professor  and then  as Full Professor  of Mathematical Analysis since  December 2015. His main research interests lie in the Calculus of Variations, with a particular focus on the study of variational models coming from Physics and Continuum Mechanics. Other research topics are concerned with  Geometric Evolution Equations. 

Likelihood-weighted active learning with application to Bayesian optimization, uncertainty quantification, and decision making in high dimensions
21 April 2022 – 2 pm CEST   |   ‪Themistoklis Sapsis, Professor at Department of Mechanical Engineering, Institute for Data, Systems and Society and Center for Computational Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – USA

Video

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Abstract: Analysis of physical and engineering systems is characterized by unique computational challenges associated with high dimensionality of parameter spaces, large cost of simulations or experiments, as well as existence of uncertainty. For a wide range of these problems the goal is to either quantify uncertainty and compute risk for critical events, optimize parameters or control strategies, and/or making decisions. Bayesian active learning provides a flexible framework for performing these tasks. However, Bayesian calculations are often prohibitively expensive in terms of the required simulations or experiments, even in the active learning setting. In this talk we introduce a new class of acquisition functions that utilize a likelihood-weighted ratio that accounts for the importance of the output relative to the input. This ratio acts essentially as a probabilistic sampling weight and guides the sampling algorithm towards regions of the input space where the objective function assumes abnormal values, resulting in significant savings of computational or experimental resources needed for convergence. We show that the adopted acquisition functions can be rigorously derived as the asymptotic limit of an optimal acquisition function that has a minimax form over a functional space. Subsequently, we demonstrate their favorable properties compared to standard methods on benchmark functions commonly used in the optimization community as well as real world applications. 

Short bio: Dr. Sapsis is Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering at MIT. He received a diploma in Ocean Engineering from Technical University of Athens, Greece and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Ocean Engineering from MIT. Before becoming a faculty at MIT he was appointed Research Scientist at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. He has also been a visiting faculty at ETH-Zurich. Prof. Sapsis work lies on the interface of nonlinear dynamical systems, probabilistic modeling and data-driven methods. A particular emphasis of his work is the formulation of mathematical methods for the prediction, statistical quantification and optimization of complex engineering and physical systems such as turbulent fluid flows, nonlinear waves in the ocean, and extreme ship motions. He has received numerous awards and recognitions including three Young Investigator Awards (Navy, Army and Air-Force research office), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Award, and more recently the Bodossaki Award on Basic Sciences: Mathematics. 

Observing the VHE gamma ray sky with Cherenkov Telescopes in the XXI century
28 April 2022 – 2 pm CEST   |   Lucio Angelo Antonelli, Director of INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma – Italy

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Abstract: Very-high-energy gamma-ray astronomy has very recently emerged as a truly observational discipline: in just 30 years many sources have been detected representing different galactic and extragalactic source populations—supernova remnants, pulsar wind nebulae, giant molecular clouds, star formation regions, compact binary systems, and active galactic nuclei. It is expected that observations with the next generation of stereoscopic arrays of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes over a very broad energy range from 1010 to 1015 electron volts will dramatically increase the number of very-high-energy gamma-ray sources, thus having a huge impact on the development of astrophysics, cosmology, and particle astrophysics.

Short bio: Lucio Angelo Antonelli is the Director of the INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Rome since 2018. In 2017, he served as Director of the Space Science Data Center of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). His field of research is High Energy Astrophysics and Experimental X-/Gamma-ray Astronomy, by designing, building and operating both space- and ground- based experiments. Since 2007 he is full member of the international Collaboration operating the MAGIC experiment. Since 2006 he is involved in the CTA International Project and since 2011 he is responsible for the Scientific Data Analysis and Archiving of the ASTRI Project. During his career he has joined several scientific national and international teams dedicated to study transient phenomena in the sky (mainly Gamma Ray Bursts). He published more than 350 papers on refereed international astronomical journals (including Science and Nature) collecting more than 24.500 citations (H_index: 76). In 2008 he spent some months in London as Visiting Professor at MSSL-UCL with a UCL Faculty Research Grant. He has been awarded with the Bruno Rossi Prizes in 1998 (nominally with other 19 scientists) and in 2007 and 2012 as part of the SWIFT and AGILE Teams.

Power-Law Gels, Scott-Blair and the Fractional Calculus of Soft Multi-scale Materials
05 May 2022 – 2 pm CEST   |   Gareth H. McKinley, Professor at Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139 – USA

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Abstract: Many soft materials including foods, consumer products, biopolymer gels & associative polymer networks are characterized by multi-scale microstructures and exhibit power-law responses in canonical rheological experiments such as Small Amplitude Oscillatory Shear and creep. Even in the linear limit of small deformations it is difficult to describe the material response of such systems quantitatively within the classical framework of springs and dashpots – which give rise universally to Maxwell-Debye exponential responses. Instead empirical functions and subjective metrics such as ‘firmness’, ‘thickness’ etc. are often used to describe and compare material responses. G.W. Scott Blair argued that such measures are best thought of as ‘quasi-properties’ that capture a snapshot of the underlying dynamical processes in these complex materials. I will show that the language of fractional calculus and the concept of a ‘spring-pot’ element provides a useful framework that is especially well suited for modeling and quantifying the rheological response of power-law–like viscoelastic materials characterized by very broad relaxation spectra. We illustrate the general utility of this approach by outlining fractional differential forms of the Maxwell, Kelvin-Voigt and Zener models and using these models to quantify linear viscoelastic responses of a range of soft materials including gluten (bread) and milk protein gels, cheese, skin and soft tissue, filled polymer melts, hydrogen-bonded biopolymer networks, pastes, foods as well as complex interfaces. The fractional exponents that characterize the dynamic material response can also be connected directly with scaling exponents from microstructural models such as the Soft Glassy Rheology (SGR) model and the fractal dimensions of the underlying network, providing a compact and universal description of many rheologically-complex materials.

Short bio: Gareth H. McKinley is the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation at MIT, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. He served as Executive Editor of the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics from 2001 to 2009 and as Associate Editor of Journal of Fluid Mechanics from 2007-2009 and presently serves on six other Editorial Boards. He was the Associate Dept. Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT from 2008-2013 as well as Interim Dept. Head in Summer 2013. He is also a co-founder of Cambridge Polymer Group and on the Board of Scientific Advisors of ACTnano in Cambridge, MA. His research interests include extensional rheology of complex fluids, non- Newtonian fluid dynamics, microrheology & microfluidics, field-responsive fluids, super- hydrophobicity, wetting of nanostructured surfaces and the development of nanocomposite materials. He was the recipient of the 2013 Bingham Medal of the Society of Rheology, the Gold Medal of the British Society of Rheology (2014) and, most recently, the G.I. Taylor Medal from the Society for Engineering Science (to be awarded Oct. 2022). He served as President of the Society of Rheology from 2015-2017 and is also the past chair of the US National Committee of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (USNC/TAM).

An informal discussion around stochastic control and free boundary problems
12 May 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   ‪Tiziano De Angelis, Professor at School of Management and Economics, Department of Economic and Social Sciences and Mathematical Statistics, University of Torino – Italy; Affiliate at Collegio Carlo Alberto, Torino – Italy

Slides  |  Video

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Abstract: I will provide an introduction for a non-expert audience to some of the main ideas in the theory of stochastic control and to its connections to free boundary problems. Starting from deterministic control problems, by largely using heuristic arguments and simple examples I will illustrate the derivation of Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equations in both deterministic and stochastic framework. I will extend the analysis to include so-called “singular controls” and derive associated variational problems with gradient constraint. By suitably differentiating the solution of such variational problems I will show a connection to optimal stopping problems and to the celebrated Stefan problem. If time allows I will also briefly discuss how the theory extends to stochastic games of control and stopping.

Short bio: Tiziano De Angelis obtained a PhD in Mathematics for Economic-Financial Applications from Sapienza University of Rome in 2012, after studying Physics for his BSc and MSc at the same university. He was visiting postdoctoral researcher and then Research Associate in the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester from 2012 to 2015. In 2015 De Angelis became lecturer in the School of Mathematics at the University of Leeds where he worked until November 2020. He then moved to the University of Torino as Associate Professor in Probability and Statistics. Since April 2021 De Angelis is also Affiliate of Collegio Carlo Alberto in Torino and in November 2021 joined the board of the PhD programme MERC at Scuola Superiore Meridionale.

Are 2 derivatives enough to describe Nature at a fundamental level?

19 May 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   Luca Buoninfante, Research Fellow at NORDITA – Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics – Stockholm, Sweden

Slides

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Abstract: The aim of this talk is to address the question posed in the title by inspecting in depth the role of higher-order derivatives in the description of physical laws of Nature. We discuss why it is usually sufficient to work with 1st and 2nd derivatives, but also why and when it is necessary to consider derivatives of a higher order. We present several examples of known physical phenomena described in terms of differential equations of order higher than 2. We range from Newtonian mechanics and electromagnetism, to quantum field theories of high-energy interactions, and discriminate between “fundamental” and “non-fundamental” higher-derivative equations. We will argue that, unlike other interactions, a consistent quantum description of gravity at high energy necessarily requires higher-order derivatives to be fundamental. Therefore, 2 derivatives are not enough to describe Nature at the fundamental level!

Short bio: Luca Buoninfante is a postdoctoral fellow at Nordita (Sweden) since December 2021. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan) supported by a competitive JSPS Fellowship and a KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research. He earned his PhD at University of Groningen (Netherlands) and University of Salerno (Italy). His main research interests are in quantum gravity, higher-derivative theories of gravity, nonlocal field theories, classical and quantum aspects of black holes.

Simple complexity in the evolution of seismic input and design
26 May 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   ‪Gian Michele Calvi, Professor and Vice-Rector for Research at IUSS, Scuola Universitaria Superiore, Pavia – Italy; Director of Science at European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering, EUCENTRE Foundation, Pavia – Italy; Executive Vice-President at International Association for Earthquake Engineering IAEE, Tokyo – Japan; Adjunct Professor at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC – USA

Video

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Abstract: Designing structures always requires resorting to a model, more or less complex, which captures some of the response peculiarities and neglects other ones. Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton laid the foundations of earthquake engineering, but they did not realized it. Following the Messina earthquake, back-analysis was instrumental in estimating acceleration before the development of accelerometers. Once it became clear, in the aftermath of the San Fernando earthquake, that most structures collapse because of excessive displacement demand, why to correct accelerations instead of comparing displacement demand and capacity? In 1935, Charles Richter noted that “it is desirable to have a scale for rating shocks in terms of their original energy, independently of the effects which may be produced at any particular point of observation” (i.e., applying the Mercalli scale). However, only forty years later the riddle of the energy associated to earthquakes (and to their magnitude) was solved by Kanamori and Anderson. Again forty years later, a comprehensive and rational procedure for an effective damage (or loss) control in designing is still missing in the practice, though possible in principle.

Short bio: Gian Michele Calvi received an MS from the UC, Berkeley, a PhD from the Politecnico di Milano and a Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cujo, Mendoza, Argentina. He has been the founder of the Eucentre Foundation and of the ROSE School. He is author of two hundreds of papers and two major books: Seismic design and retrofit of bridges (1996) and Displacement-Based Seismic Design of Structures (2007). He has been designer, consultant or checker for hundreds of structural projects, including the Rion Bridge (2004); the Bolu viaduct (2002); the new housing system after L’Aquila earthquake (2009, 185 buildings seismically isolated with more than 7,000 devices, completed in about six months); the construction of 103 schools in Costa Rica (2018); the assessment and strengthening program in Groningen (2015-2020) due to problems of induced seismicity. He is associate editor of the Journal of Earthquake Engineering since its conception and has been invited keynote speakers in tens of conferences, including two World and four European Conferences on Earthquake Engineering. He has been always active in conceptual innovation in seismic design, focusing on masonry in his early days, on bridges, displacement–based design and seismic isolation from the nineties.

Quantum fluids of atoms and of light as analog models of gravity: a fruitful synergy of gravitational physics and quantum optics
09 June 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   ‪Iacopo Carusotto, Research Director at the BEC Center of INO-CNR in Trento, Italy

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Abstract: In this talk, I will present the state of the art and the new perspectives in the theoretical and experimental study of analog models of quantum field theories in flat, curved, or time-dependent backgrounds using condensed matter and optical systems.

After a brief presentation of the general concept of analog model, I will review milestone theoretical and experimental works on Hawking emission of phonons from acoustic horizons in trans-sonic flows of ultracold atoms and of light. In particular, I will highlight the intriguing interplay between the Hawking emission and the quasi-normal modes of the black holes, which gives rise to a significant excitation of these latter.

I will then switch to recent results on superradiant effects in different geometries. In rotating configurations, the concept of ergoregion instability provides an intuitive understanding of the well-known instability of multiply charged vortices. Introduction of synthetic gauge fields in planar geometries extends the range of space-time metrics that can be generated and allows for analytical insight into superradiant phenomena using quantum optics concepts. In particular, the subtle relations between superradiant scattering, quantum superradiant emission and superradiant instabilities will be clarified.

Finally, I will outline the on-going investigations in the direction of observing back-reaction effects of the quantum field onto the background: the crucial impact of quantum fluctuations of the quantum friction force is highlighted in single-mode configurations amenable to circuit-QED realizations and, then, on cosmological models to be investigated on cold atom platforms. These results offer stimulating insight in view of the outstanding problem of the back-reaction of Hawking emission onto a black hole.

Short bio: Iacopo Carusotto is a Research Director at the BEC Center of INO-CNR in Trento, Italy. After completing his PhD in 2000 at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa under the supervision of Prof. G. C. La Rocca, he was a post-doc in Paris at LKB in the group of Y. Castin until he joined the BEC Center in 2003. His research interests range from quantum fluids of light, to nonlinear, quantum and topological photonics, topological states of matter, and analog models of gravity.

Risk-modeling Complex Engineering Systems
16 June 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   ‪Enrico Zio, Professor at Energy Department, Polytechnic of Milan – Italy

Slides (part 1, part 2)  |  Video

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Abstract: As the digital, physical and human worlds continue to integrate, we experience a deep transformation in industry, which far-reaches into our lives. The 4th industrial revolution, the internet of things and big data, the industrial internet, are changing the way we design, manufacture, provide products and services. This is creating a network of things and people that are seamlessly connected and communicating. Complex systems and systems of systems are being designed, built and operated to make productions more efficient and faster, and more flexible and resilient the supply chains and distribution networks that tie the global economy.
The innovations that are being developed have high potential of increased well-being and benefits, but also generate new and unknown failure mechanisms, hazards and risks, due also to new and unknown functional and structural dependencies and interdependences. On the other hand, advancements in knowledge, methods and techniques, increase in information sharing, data availability and computational capabilities, enable the development of new and enhanced ways of analysis and assessment of risks. An evolution of risk assessment is in the making, or perhaps even a “revolution” that takes the form of new approaches to and methods for risk assessment.
Risk assessment is evolving to address the challenges arising from complexity. In this lecture, directions of development are presented, including the use of simulation for accident scenario identification and exploration, the exploitation of monitoring data for the dynamic updating of risk assessment to condition monitoring-based risk assessment, and the extension of the framework to resilience.

Keywords: Complexity, Complex systems, Complex systems of systems, Risk assessment, Simulation, Resilience, Condition monitoring-based risk assessment, Dynamic risk assessment.

Short bio: Enrico Zio received the MSc degree in nuclear engineering from Politecnico di Milano in 1991 and in mechanical engineering from UCLA in 1995, and the Ph.D. degree in nuclear engineering from Politecnico di Milano and in probabilistic risk assessment at MIT in 1996 and 1998, respectively. He is currently full professor at the Centre for research on Risk and Crises (CRC) of Ecole de Mines, Paris Tech, PSL University, France, full professor and President of the Alumni Association at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, eminent scholar at Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea, distinguished guest professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, adjunct professor at City University of Hong Kong, Beihang University and Wuhan University.

In 2020, he has been awarded the prestigious Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, one the world’s most prestigious research awards across all scientific disciplines. The Award has been granted for being a World leading scientist in Risk and Resilience Assessment, Safety Analysis and Reliability Engineering of complex systems and infrastructures, in particular for energy applications. He has been one of the pioneers in using artificial intelligence and evolutionary algorithms in reliability engineering and risk assessment, solving key problems related to the safety and reliability of critical systems such as those used in the nuclear, oil and gas, transportation industries.

In 2021, he has been nominated Ambassador of the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering (4TU RE), the knowledge centre in Resilience Engineering of the four universities of technology in the Nether1ands (Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Twente, and Wageningen University and Research).

Still in 2021, he has been named Fellow of the Prognostics & Health Management Society a world recognized scientist in the area of reliability centered, condition based and predictive maintenance.

His research focuses on the modeling of the failure-repair-maintenance behavior of components and complex systems, for the analysis of their reliability, maintainability, prognostics, safety, vulnerability, resilience and security characteristics, and on the development and use of Monte Carlo simulation methods, artificial intelligence techniques and optimization heuristics. He is author and co-author of seven books and more than 500 papers on international journals, Chairman and Co-Chairman of several international Conferences, associate editor of several international journals and referee of more than 20.

From resilience assessment to design for resilience: what is missing?
14 July 2022 – 2 pm CET   |   ‪Paolo Franchin, Professor at Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, “Sapienza” University of Rome – Italy

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AbstractMost of the literature on community resilience is devoted to its assessment. To move from analysis to design, tools to enhance resilience are needed. Since a community is a system, in discussing strategies to enhance resilience, we focus on the role played by systemic analysis, i.e., the analysis of the built environment modelled considering interdependences, rather than the simple collection of its physical assets. Interdependent models of the multiple infrastructural systems are first introduced. Research needs are then identified, which include challenges in network modelling, the replacement of generic fragility models for the components, and how to deal with an evolving state of information.

Short bio: Paolo Franchin obtained his MSc and PhD in Civil Structural Engineering from University of Rome La Sapienza, and a MSc from University of California, Berkeley. His research in the broader field of Earthquake Engineering focuses on Seismic Risk and Resilience Assessment of Structural and Infrastructural Systems. He teaches Seismic Design and Assessment to Engineering and Architecture students. He took part in several EU-funded collaborative research projects as well as risk-related projects funded by the Italian Civil Protection. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of “Earthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics”, “Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering”, “Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructures” and “Progettazione Sismica”. He is a member of the International Federation for Structural Concrete, fib, Convener of its TG2.7 Seismic Design, and Member of the Action Group on Seismic design of TG10 “Model Code 2020”. He is also a member of: IASSAR, the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability (Technical Committee 3: System Reliability and Optimization); the Doctoral School in Structural and Geotechnical Engineering at Sapienza; the Scientific Committee of the EUCENTRE Foundation as well as a faculty of the European School in Reduction of Seismic Risk, both in Pavia. Former member of CEN/TC250/SC10/Ad hoc group on “Reliability bases of the Eurocodes”, CEN/TC250/SC8 Project team for the revision of Eurocode 8 Part 3 “Assessment and retrofitting of buildings” and leader of the Project team for the revision of Eurocode 8 Part 2 “Design of structures for earthquake resistance – Part 2: Bridges”, he is now part of the Management group finalizing the European seismic design and assessment normatives. He has extensive consulting experience in special problems involving seismic design, assessment and retrofit of existing bridges and buildings.

More colloquia will be announced during the year…
The program of the first series of Colloquia can be found here.

The organizers of this year’s series are Giacomo Ascione, Micol Benetti, and Marco Coraggio
To be added to our weekly mailing list, or for any information, please contact any of them at the following emails: 
giacomo.ascione[at].unina.it  |  micol.benetti[at]unina.it  |  marco.coraggio[at]unina.it