Seminar series
Fri, 10 Feb 2023
Dani Smith Bassett
University of Pennsylvania

What is curiosity? Is it an emotion? A behavior? A cognitive process? Curiosity seems to be an abstract concept—like love, perhaps, or justice—far from the realm of those bits of nature that mathematics can possibly address. However, contrary to intuition, it turns out that the leading theories of curiosity are surprisingly amenable to formalization in the mathematics of network science. In this talk, I will unpack some of those theories, and show how they can be formalized in the mathematics of networks. Then, I will describe relevant data from human behavior and linguistic corpora, and ask which theories that data supports. Throughout, I will make a case for the position that individual and collective curiosity are both network building processes, providing a connective counterpoint to the common acquisitional account of curiosity in humans.

Further Information

Title: “Mathematical models of curiosity”

Prof. Bassett is the J. Peter Skirkanich Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, with appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, Neurology, and Psychiatry. They are also an external professor of the Santa Fe Institute. Bassett is most well-known for blending neural and systems engineering to identify fundamental mechanisms of cognition and disease in human brain networks.

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