Manuel Cebrian

Scalable Cooperation
  • Research Scientist

Dr. Manuel Cebrian is a research scientist with the Scalable Cooperation group at the MIT Media Lab. He is best known for designing the recursive incentive structure that mobilized participants to solve the DARPA Network Challenge, the Department of State Tag Challenge, the DARPA Shredder Challenge, among other time-critical social mobilization challenges.

Manuel came to MIT from CSIRO, where he developed tools for nowcasting disaster damage using crowdsourced data and worked on special research projects with Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP). Before CSIRO, Manuel was based at the University of California, San Diego, where he was immersed in large-scale crowdsourcing competitions. Manuel gained hands-on experience with social networks through his postdoctoral work with Telefonica and Brown University. He is also a senior advisor at Graphext, a smart data discovery platform.

Manuel earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, where his thesis received the dissertation of the year award for his work on plagiarism net… View full description

Dr. Manuel Cebrian is a research scientist with the Scalable Cooperation group at the MIT Media Lab. He is best known for designing the recursive incentive structure that mobilized participants to solve the DARPA Network Challenge, the Department of State Tag Challenge, the DARPA Shredder Challenge, among other time-critical social mobilization challenges.

Manuel came to MIT from CSIRO, where he developed tools for nowcasting disaster damage using crowdsourced data and worked on special research projects with Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP). Before CSIRO, Manuel was based at the University of California, San Diego, where he was immersed in large-scale crowdsourcing competitions. Manuel gained hands-on experience with social networks through his postdoctoral work with Telefonica and Brown University. He is also a senior advisor at Graphext, a smart data discovery platform.

Manuel earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, where his thesis received the dissertation of the year award for his work on plagiarism networks, as well as a test-of-time award ten years after its defense. A summary of Manuel's body of work can be found in WiredNautilus, and  MIT Sloan Management Review. Recent articles by NatureThe Economist, and New Scientist highlight Cebrian's contributions to crowdsourcing, put in perspective by his upcoming trilogy on the history of social search (Searching for Someone, Becoming Someone.)

In his spare time, Manuel is an amateur mystery writermuseum curator, and the founder of the Spam Church art collective. 

Recent projects

Weather impacts expressed sentiment, P. Baylis, et al. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0195750 (2018.) NewsweekPLOS Research NewsThe Weather Channel,  Yahoo UK News, Quartz, MIT Tech Review. 

Cooperating with Machines, J. Crandal, et al. Nature Communications, 9:233 (2018.) Video abstractScience Magazine, Science DailyLa RepubblicaMIT Technology ReviewLe Monde.  Code: Comparison of algorithms | S#

Frank, M. R., Sun, L., Cebrian, M., Youn, H., & Rahwan, I. (2018). Small cities face greater impact from automationJournal of the Royal Society Interface. 15(139). Visualization: Kellogg Insight. Video: EmTech Talk. Selected Media: MIT Technology ReviewNew ScientistMIT Task Force on the Work of the Future.

Deep Empathy, P. Yanardag, M. Garcia-Herranz, Z. Rahwan,  N.Obradovich, I. Rahwan, M. Cebrian et al. UNICEFCo. Design, Digital Trends, Atlas Obscura, and others

Selected projects

For a comprehensive list of publications, check Cebrian's Google Scholar profile, his Semantic Scholar profile, his Research Gate profile, or his DBLP bibliography.

Time-critical social mobilization, G. Pickard, W. Pan, I. Rahwan, M. Cebrian, R. Crane, A. Madan, and A. Pentland, Science 334(6055):509-512 (2011). New York TimesRachel MadowMSNBCPopular MechanicsMIT NewsIEEE MultimediaScience News.

Urban characteristics attributable to density-driven tie formation, W. Pan, G. Ghoshal, C. Krumme, M. Cebrian, and A. Pentland, Nature Communications 4, 1961 (2013). Featured in PNAS Core Concepts in Computational Social Science, New York TimesThe Atlantic CitiesThe EconomistSmithsonianMIT News. See related work on Urban Crime, covered by CIO, and our analysis the capacity of cities to Organize Social Events.

Limits of social mobilization, A. Rutherford, M. Cebrian, S. Dsouza, E. Moro, A. Pentland, and I. Rahwan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110(16):6281-6286 (2013). NBCYahoo! NewsArabian GazetteLa Repubblica.

Error and attack tolerance of collective problem solving: The DARPA Shredder Challenge, N. Stefanovitch, A. Alshamsi, M. Cebrian, I. Rahwan, EPJ Data Science 3:13 (2014). MediumNautilusCNETSan Diego Union-TribuneUC San Diego News IUC San Diego News IIKPBS,Phys.orgEl PaisRTVE.

Rapid assessment of disaster damage using social media activity, Y. Kryvasheyeu, H. Chen, N. Obradovich, E. Moro, P. Van Hentenryck, J. Fowler, and M. Cebrian, Science Advances 2, e1500779 (2016). Science MagazineWall Street JournalThe Washington PostSmithsonianMichigan DailyDie WeltDeutschlandfunkDagens NyheterScience NewsEl PaisLa VanguardiaAltmetric. Dataset available at Dryad Digital Repository.

Using friends as sensors to detect global-scale contagious outbreaks, M. Garcia-Herranz, E. Moro, M. Cebrian, N. Christakis, J. Fowler, PLoS ONE 9(4):e92413 (2014). MIT Technology ReviewYale University NewsChronicleBusiness WeekUniversidad Carlos III de MadridHuffington Post.

Social sensing for epidemiological behavior change, A. Madan, M. Cebrian, D. Lazer, A. Pentland, Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp) pp. 291-300, Copenhagen, Denmark (2010). Ginger.ioNature News.

Reflecting on the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge, J. Tang, M. Cebrian, N. Giacobe, H-W. Kim, T. Kim, D. Wickert, Communications of the ACM 54(4):78-85 (2011).

Finding red balloons with split contracts: robustness to individuals' selfishness, M. Cebrian, L. Coviello, A. Vattani, P. Voulgaris, Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC) pp. 775-788, New York, USA (2012). Talk videoYaron Singer's Lecture Notes.

Crowdsourcing contest dilemma, V. Naroditskiy, N. Jennings, P. Van Hentenryck, M. Cebrian, Journal of The Royal Society Interface 11:20140532 (2014). Social Physics BlogThe AustralianABC RadioQuartzLifeHackerThe ConversationUniversity of Southampton.

Global manhunt pushes the limits of social mobilization, I. Rahwan, S. Dsouza, A. Rutherford, V. Naroditskiy, J. McInerney, M. Venanzi, N. Jennings, M. Cebrian, Computer 46(4):68-75 (2013). Scientific AmericanMIT Technology ReviewNew ScientistWired.

News Coverage

English coverage: New York TimesThe EconomistPopular ScienceNature NewsNew ScientistThe AtlanticWiredMIT Technology ReviewNautilusMediumThe Antlantic's CitylabYale NewsThe ConversationThe AustralianMIT Technology ReviewThe AustralianAustralian Broadcasting CorporationCIOTransparency InternationalArts HubMxScience NewsScience MagazineWall Street JournalThe Washington PostSmithsonianDie WeltDeutschlandfunkDagens NyheterThe AdvertiserWikimedia Research ShowcaseAustralian National UniversityMIT Technology ReviewThe AtlanticForbesMotherboardMIT Sloan Management ReviewWashington PostThe AtlanticForbesBBCNPRCNETNBC NewsViceBoston GlobeFiveThirtyEight, CCCBLab

Spanish coverage: El PaisEl MundoCinco DiasMuy InteresanteEl ConfidencialAhora SemanalRTVECinco DiasEl PaisMadri+dEl PaisLa VanguardiaCadena SerNada es GratisEl PaisEl ConfidencialYorokobuEl ConfidencialUniversidad Pablo de Olavide, El Pais, Sacyr, CCCBLab., La Vanguardia

E-mail

Scientific correspondence should be directed to Manuel Cebrian at cebrian@media.mit.edu.

Questions about the Research Group should be directed to Amna Carreiro at amnac@media.mit.edu.

Media inquiries should be directed to Media Lab Press Team at press@media.mit.edu.

Phone

+1 617 253 5960

Mailing address

MIT Media Lab
77 Massachusetts Avenue, E14/E15
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
USA