Robert Ghrist, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: There is a long history of networked dynamical systems that models the spread of opinions over social networks, with the graph Laplacian playing a lead role.  One of the difficulties in modeling opinion dynamics is the presence of polarization: not everyone comes to consensus. This talk will describe joint work with Jakob Hansen introducing a new model for opinion dynamics using sheaves of vector spaces over social networks. The graph Laplacian is enriched to a Hodge Laplacian, and the resulting dynamics on discourse sheaves can lead to some very interesting and perhaps more realistic outcomes. Additional work with Hans Riess extending the theory will be hinted at. The talk requires no background in sheaf theory and is suitable for graduate students in the mathematical sciences.

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