Bernardo Huberman, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories


Bernardo Huberman is a Senior HP Fellow and Director of the Mechanisms and Design Lab at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently a Consulting Professor in the Department of Applied Physics at Stanford University. He originally worked in condensed matter physics, and made contributions to the theory of critical phenomena in low dimensional systems. He was one of the discoverers of chaos in a number of physical systems, and also established a number of universal properties in nonlinear dynamical systems. His research into the dynamics of complex structures led to his discovery of ultradiffusion in hierarchical systems.

In the field of information sciences, he predicted the existence of phase transitions in large scale distributed systems, and developed an economics approach to the solution of hard computational problems. Dr. Huberman is one of the creators of the field of ecology of computation, and editor of a book on the subject. He is also the author of the book: “The Laws of the Web: Patterns in the Ecology of Information”, published by MIT Press.

For several years, Dr. Huberman’s research concentrated on the World Wide Web, with particular emphasis the dynamics of its growth and use. This work helped uncover the nature of electronic markets, as well as the design of novel mechanisms for enhancing privacy and trust in e-commerce and negotiations. With members of his group he discovered a number of strong regularities, such as the dynamics that govern the growth of the web, and the laws that determine how users surf the web and create the observed congestion patterns. In addition, this research helped establish and understand the winner-take-all nature of markets in the web, while leading to the design of several novel mechanisms for protecting privacy and enhancing trust in electronic communities. These results, were widely covered by the press.

Presently, his work centers on the design of novel mechanisms for discovering and aggregating information in distributed systems as well as the dynamics of the attention economy.

In 1989 his team designed and implemented Spawn, the first market system for the allocation of resources among machines in computer networks, and a few years later a mult-agent thermal market mechanism for the control of building environments. That work served as prelude to Tycoon, a market for computational resources that HP Lab has deployed around the world. This work has received the Horizon Award for Innovation.

He holds numerous patents on self-repairing parallel computers, a parallel motion detector, distributed controls for smart matter,  market mechanisms for resource allocation and privacy and more recently, on attention economics and the harvesting of big data from social networks.

Dr. Huberman is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a former trustee of the Aspen Center for Physics and Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, as well as a faculty member in the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford University. He is co-winner of the 1990 CECOIA prize in Economics and Artificial Intelligence and  shared the IBM Prize of the Society for Computational Economics. He was also the Chairman of the Council of Fellows at Xerox Corporation and the manager of the Internet Ecologies Group. He has held visiting professorships at the University of Paris, the University of Copenhagen and the European School of Business.

Published Papers (PDF)


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