Dr. Manuel Cebrian

Manuel Cebrian

Dr. Manuel Cebrian is senior scientist with NICTA. He is currently the Scholar-in-Residence at Graphext, a platform for building vertical knowledge graphs. Cebrian has held positions with the University of California at San Diego, MIT, Brown University, and Telefonica Research. Cebrian earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, where his thesis received the Dissertation of the Year Award for his pioneering work on plagiarism networks.

Cebrian's work lies at the intersection of the computer and social sciences. His primary interests include social and financial networks, crowdsourcing, urban economics, behavioral game theory, and evolutionary dynamics. His work has been supported by a FECYT Award, a Caja Madrid Foundation Fellowship, and grants from the Australian Research Council, the US National Science Foundation, DARPA, the US Army Research Office, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Masdar Institute of the United Arab Emirates.

Cebrian is particularly interested in understanding to what extent can social networking make it easier to find people and solve real-world problems. His efforts are best illustrated by his participation in the 2009 DARPA Network Challenge, the 2011 DARPA Shredder Challenge, and the 2012 Department of State Tag Challenge. Recent articles by Nature, The Economist, and New Scientist summarise the exciting challenges in this area.

Recent projects

Performance of social network sensors during Hurricane Sandy, Y. Kryvasheyeu, H. Chen, E. Moro, P. Van Hentenryck, M. Cebrian, PLoS ONE 10(2):e0117288 (2015). Dataset available at Dryad Digital Repository. The Conversation, Mx.

Quantifying long-term evolution of intra-urban spatial interactions, L. Sun, J. Jin, K. Axhausen, D-H. Lee, M. Cebrian, Journal of The Royal Society Interface 12:20141089 (2015).

Error and attack tolerance of collective problem solving: The DARPA Shredder Challenge, N. Stefanovitch, A. Alshamsi, M. Cebrian, I. Rahwan, EPJ Data Science 3:13 (2014). Medium, Nautilus, CNET, San Diego Union-Tribune, UC San Diego News I, UC San Diego News II, KPBS, Phys.org, El Pais, RTVE.

Selected projects

For a comprehensive list of publications, check Cebrian's Google Scholar profile, his Research Gate profile or his DBLP bibliography; additional media coverage can be found in his personal webpage.

A more literary narrative about Cebrian's body of work can be read in Nautilus and Medium.

Time-critical social mobilization, G. Pickard, W. Pan, I. Rahwan, M. Cebrian, R. Crane, A. Madan, and A. Pentland, Science 334(6055):509-512 (2011). New York Times, Rachel Madow, MSNBC, Popular Mechanics, MIT News.

Limits of social mobilization, A. Rutherford, M. Cebrian, S. Dsouza, E. Moro, A. Pentland, and I. Rahwan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110(16):6281-6286 (2013). NBC, Yahoo! News, Arabian Gazette.

Urban characteristics attributable to density-driven tie formation, W. Pan, G. Ghoshal, C. Krumme, M. Cebrian, and A. Pentland, Nature Communications 4, 1961 (2013). New York Times, The Atlantic Cities, The Economist, Smithsonian, MIT News.

Using friends as sensors to detect global-scale contagious outbreaks, M. Garcia-Herranz, E. Moro, M. Cebrian, N. Christakis, J. Fowler, PLoS ONE 9(4):e92413 (2014). MIT Technology Review, Yale University News, Chronicle, Business Week, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Huffington Post.

Social sensing for epidemiological behavior change, A. Madan, M. Cebrian, D. Lazer, and A. Pentland, Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp) pp. 291-300, Copenhagen, Denmark (2010). Ginger.io, Nature News.

Reflecting on the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge, J. Tang, M. Cebrian, N. Giacobe, H-W. Kim, T. Kim, and D. Wickert, Communications of the ACM 54(4):78-85 (2011).

Finding red balloons with split contracts: robustness to individuals' selfishness, M. Cebrian, L. Coviello, A. Vattani, and P. Voulgaris, Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC) pp. 775-788, New York, USA (2012). Talk video.

Crowdsourcing contest dilemma, V. Naroditskiy, N. Jennings, P. Van Hentenryck, M. Cebrian, Journal of The Royal Society Interface 11:20140532 (2014). Social Physics Blog, The Australian, ABC Radio, Quartz, LifeHacker, The Conversation, University of Southampton.

Limited communication capacity unveils strategies for human interaction, G. Miritello, R. Lara, M. Cebrian, and E. Moro, Scientific Reports 3, 1950 (2013). Seminar at UCLA's Mathematics of Social Learning, Esteban Moro's Blog, Antena 3.

Global manhunt pushes the limits of social mobilization, I. Rahwan, S. Dsouza, A. Rutherford, V. Naroditskiy, J. McInerney, M. Venanzi, N. Jennings, and M. Cebrian, Computer 46(4):68-75 (2013). Scientific American, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist.


For a beta trial to build and explore vertical knowledge graphs go to http://graphext.com/.


Together with close colleagues, Dr. Cebrian contributes to the Social Physics Blog at socialphysics.media.mit.edu.


Scientific correspondence should be directed to Dr. Cebrian at Manuel.Cebrian@nicta.com.au.

Questions about our Research Group should be directed to Alessandra Stasi at Alessandra.Stasi@nicta.com.au.

Media inquiries should be directed to Vanda Martins at Vanda.Martins@nicta.com.au.

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