Aaron Clauset

External Professor

Aaron Clauset is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, and is External Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute, where he was also an Omidyar Fellow. He is an internationally recognized expert on network science, computational social science, and machine learning for complex systems.

Clauset's research aims to identify fundamental principles of organization for complex social and biological systems, and how data and computation can be used to illuminate them. Much of this work is organized around two themes. The first theme focuses on how interactions at smaller scales within a system drive regularities and dynamics at larger scales, i.e., how simplicity arises from complexity. The second focuses on developing advanced computational methods that can automatically characterize large-scale regularities and either connect them with causal mechanisms at smaller scales or exploit them to make predictions. He explores these ideas in the context of complex networks, patterns in conflict and war, the social forces that shape scientific careers and discoveries, macroevolutionary dynamics, and the dynamics of cancer. He is also deeply interested in the epistemology of complex systems, and in the ways we can evaluate causal hypotheses and models when complex effects can have complex causes.

In 2016, he was awarded the Erdos-Renyi Prize in Network Science for his foundational contributions to the field, which have transformed our understanding of the structure and diversity of real-world networks. He widely known for his seminal work on modeling the statistics of rare events in complex systems, and in particular for the analysis of power-law distributions in empirical data.

His research has been funded by NSF, NIH, DARPA, and AFOSR, as well as by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Keck Foundation. He has published nearly 100 scientific articles, and his work has appeared in numerous prestigious scientific venues, including Nature, Science, PNAS, Science Advances, Nature Communications, and SIAM Review. His contributions have also been covered in the popular press by the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Discover Magazine, New Scientist, Wired, Miller-McCune, the Boston Globe and The Guardian.