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Friends make you fat?
Get the skinny on networks

Remember that study a few years back saying that when your friends gain weight, you do too—even if they live far away?

The researcher is coming to Yale to help run a new institute. I hope it doesn't make me fat.

Nicholas Christakis ’84, a physician and sociologist who cowrote the study on contagious obesity, is leaving Harvard to return to his undergraduate alma mater, where he will codirect the new Yale Institute of Network Science. Underscoring the interdisciplinary nature of network science, the other codirector is Daniel Spielman ’92, the Henry Ford II Professor of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Applied Science, who won a MacArthur Fellowship last fall for his work on "abstract questions that nonetheless affect the essential aspects of daily life in modern society—how we communicate and how we measure, predict, and regulate our environment and our behavior."

In a press release announcing the new institute, Christakis says: “The study of networks helps to explain how a whole comes to be greater than the sum of its parts—whether that whole is an organism or a society or a telecommunication system. Since many vexing social problems affect us as a group, and not just as individuals, network science offers great promise for concretely addressing them." Other institute faculty come from the fields engineering, biology, physics, and management, to name a few.

The institute, known as YINS (not to be confused with "yinz," despite today's hockey tournament in Pittsburgh), will launch July 1.

Filed under Institute of Network Science, Daniel Spielman, Nicholas Christakis
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