Special Issue "Entropy and Information in Networks, from Societies to Cities"

A special issue of Entropy (ISSN 1099-4300). This special issue belongs to the section "Multidisciplinary Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna Website E-Mail
Department of Applied Science and Technology, Polytechnic University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Interests: general physics and mathematics; optics; software; image processing applied to microscopy and satellite imagery
Guest Editor
Dr. Vinicius M. Netto Website E-Mail
Department of Urbanism, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rua Passo da Patria 156, Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro 24210-240, Brazil
Interests: urban studies; cities; society; social theory; sociology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Among the first works that discussed and popularized the role of entropy in society, we can find the book “Entropy: A New World View” by Jeremy Rifkin and Ted Howard, published in 1980. Preceded by books such as those by Y. S. Touloukian (1956) and R. Arnheim (1974) on entropy in science, communication, and arts, the book by Rifkin and Howard used the law of entropy to analyze the world's economic and social structures. In the book, the authors linked entropy, viewed as disorder, to the behaviour of social systems wasting natural resources at a striking rate.

This idea is even more crucial if we think of the increasing challenges faced by contemporary urban societies. Indeed, societies are formed by large numbers of agents and networks, places, and technical objects performing in potentially different ways. Nevertheless, if any system is to reproduce itself, it has to evolve into states in which connections and coordination between such entities become possible. As Niklas Luhman’s (1995) work suggests, it is interaction and coordination that enable such diverse sets of agencies and networks to somehow emerge as a working system.

Challenges for a social system’s self-maintenance and reproduction may be clarified through a classic concept in information theory and thermodynamics: entropy, a measure of information in the face of uncertainty (Shannon, 1948), and a measure of disorder (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984; Hidalgo, 2015). After Shannon, this concept has been widely applied in many different fields and disciplines, from information theory and computer sciences to biology and financial studies. In one way or another, we face entropy all the time. Our daily actions are riddled with uncertainty, from daily choices we make to the way our actions play out once they merge into those of other people. If entropy relates to uncertainty and disorder, and if social systems face entropy all the time, continuity and self-maintenance become major issues. In this framework, entropy becomes key to understanding complex social systems, from daily decisions to emerging states, patterns, or even crises.

By the same token, from physics to the social sciences, information is now seen as a key component of reality. In particular, information in social networks and in urban environments is expected to have an increasing function. As we deal with information encoded in and decoded from the environment in order to make daily decisions and take part in complex interaction systems, cities might play a role in the social system’s ability to keep itself in certain entropy states (Netto et al, 2018). In short, aspects of environmental information might affect coordination in interaction systems.

As related subjects, entropy and information are now of interest to social theorists, urban theorists, physicists, and cognitive geographers alike and require reliable methods of analysis. We invite contributions to this Special Issue, which is devoted to the use of entropy and information in understanding different aspects of society, its environment and their future development.

Dr. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna
Dr. Vinicius M. Netto
Guest Editors

 

References

Arnheim, R. Entropy and art: An essay on disorder and order; University of California Press: Oakland, CA, USA, 1974.

Hidalgo, C. Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies; Basic Books: New York, NY, USA, 2015.

Luhmann, N. Social Systems; Stanford University Press: Redwood City, CA, USA, 1995.

Netto, V.M.; Brigatti, E.; Meirelles, J.; Ribeiro, F.L.; Pace, B.; Cacholas, C.; Sanches, P. Cities, from Information to Interaction. Entropy 2018, 20, 834.

Prigogine, I.; Stengers, I. Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature; Bantam Books: New York, NY, USA, 1984.

Rifkin, J.; Howard, T. Entropy: A new world view; Viking Press, New York, NY USA, 1980.

Shannon, C.E. Communication theory of secrecy systems. Bell Syst. Tech. J. 1949, 28, 656–715.

Touloukian, Y.S. The Concept of Entropy in Communication, Living Organisms, and Thermodynamic; Purdue University, 1956.

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Entropy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Shannon entropy
  • generalized entropies
  • social entropy
  • Tsallis entropy
  • order and disorder
  • systems theory
  • social networks
  • cities
  • environmental information
  • decision theory
  • ecology

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Investigating the Randomness of Passengers’ Seating Behavior in Suburban Trains
Entropy 2019, 21(6), 600; https://doi.org/10.3390/e21060600 - 17 Jun 2019
Abstract
In pedestrian dynamics, individual-based models serve to simulate the behavior of crowds so that evacuation times and crowd densities can be estimated or the efficiency of public transportation optimized. Often, train systems are investigated where seat choice may have a great impact on [...] Read more.
In pedestrian dynamics, individual-based models serve to simulate the behavior of crowds so that evacuation times and crowd densities can be estimated or the efficiency of public transportation optimized. Often, train systems are investigated where seat choice may have a great impact on capacity utilization, especially when passengers get in each other’s way. Therefore, it is useful to reproduce passengers’ behavior inside trains. However, there is surprisingly little research on the subject. Do passengers distribute evenly as it is most often assumed in simulation models and as one would expect from a system that obeys the laws of thermodynamics? Conversely, is there a higher degree of order? To answer these questions, we collect data on seating behavior in Munich’s suburban trains and analyze it. Clear preferences are revealed that contradict the former assumption of a uniform distribution. We subsequently introduce a model that matches the probability distributions we observed. We demonstrate the applicability of our model and present a qualitative validation with a simulation example. The model’s implementation is part of the free and open-source Vadere simulation framework for pedestrian dynamics and thus available for further studies. The model can be used as one component in larger systems for the simulation of public transport. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entropy and Information in Networks, from Societies to Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Bipartite Structures in Social Networks: Traditional versus Entropy-Driven Analyses
Entropy 2019, 21(3), 277; https://doi.org/10.3390/e21030277 - 13 Mar 2019
Abstract
A special type of social networks is the so-called affiliation network, consisting of two modes of vertices: actors and events. Up to now, in the undirected case, the closeness of actors in such networks has been measured by their jointly-attended events. Indirect contacts [...] Read more.
A special type of social networks is the so-called affiliation network, consisting of two modes of vertices: actors and events. Up to now, in the undirected case, the closeness of actors in such networks has been measured by their jointly-attended events. Indirect contacts and attenuated and directed links are of minor interest in affiliation networks. These flaws make a veritable estimation of, e.g., possible message transfers amongst actors questionable. In this contribution, first, we discuss these matters from a graph-theoretical point of view. Second, so as to avoid the identified weaknesses, we propose an up-and-coming entropy-based approach for modeling such networks in their generic structure, replacing directed (attenuated) links by conditionals: if-then. In this framework, the contribution of actors and events to a reliable message transfer from one actor to another—even via intermediaries—is then calculated applying the principle of maximum entropy. The usefulness of this new approach is demonstrated by the analysis of an affiliation network called “corporate directors”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entropy and Information in Networks, from Societies to Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Matching Users’ Preference under Target Revenue Constraints in Data Recommendation Systems
Entropy 2019, 21(2), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/e21020205 - 21 Feb 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This paper focuses on the problem of finding a particular data recommendation strategy based on the user preference and a system expected revenue. To this end, we formulate this problem as an optimization by designing the recommendation mechanism as close to the user [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the problem of finding a particular data recommendation strategy based on the user preference and a system expected revenue. To this end, we formulate this problem as an optimization by designing the recommendation mechanism as close to the user behavior as possible with a certain revenue constraint. In fact, the optimal recommendation distribution is the one that is the closest to the utility distribution in the sense of relative entropy and satisfies expected revenue. We show that the optimal recommendation distribution follows the same form as the message importance measure (MIM) if the target revenue is reasonable, i.e., neither too small nor too large. Therefore, the optimal recommendation distribution can be regarded as the normalized MIM, where the parameter, called importance coefficient, presents the concern of the system and switches the attention of the system over data sets with different occurring probability. By adjusting the importance coefficient, our MIM based framework of data recommendation can then be applied to systems with various system requirements and data distributions. Therefore, the obtained results illustrate the physical meaning of MIM from the data recommendation perspective and validate the rationality of MIM in one aspect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entropy and Information in Networks, from Societies to Cities)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Assessing Spatial Information in Physical Environments
Authors: Vinicius M. Netto
Affiliation: Department of Urbanism, Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF)
Abstract: The idea that the environment encodes information is well known and suggests extraordinary cognitive and practical possibilities as a resource guiding our actions. Research has dealt with this idea mainly focusing on how we decode information from the environment in visual perception, navigation, and spatial decision-making. A question yet to be fully explored is how the built environment could encode forms of information in its own physical structures in the first place, and how we could assess them empirically. Exploring a three-layered model of information-interaction relations, this paper introduces a new measure of spatial information and applies it to cities from different spatial cultures and regions of the world. Findings suggest the possibility of different spatial ‘entropy signatures’ that open up new questions about what we call ‘cultural hypothesis’: the idea that spatial configurations find consistent differences between cultures and regions.

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