Paolo Dini

Some Personal & Education Info

I was born in Italy and grew up in the country-side near Lucca. At age 16 I moved with my family to San Francisco, where I lived for a couple of years while finishing high-school. I attended UC Davis 1980-83, earning a degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering. At Davis I met my (Italian) wife and my first daughter was born.

I decided I liked airfoil (aerofoil, in the UK) design and analysis and enrolled in postgraduate school at Penn State, where I completed a Master’s in 1987 and a PhD (funded by NASA) in 1990, both in Aerospace Engineering (low-speed aerodynamics). I can’t remember the name of this airfoil and am not sure who designed it, but it looks like it was designed for a General Aviation airplane. My second daughter and son were born in Pennsylvania.

My Current Research Interests

I am active in both social science and computer science/mathematics

• Social theory (Giddens, Foucault, …). I drew this figure a few years ago and have been working on identifying and deploying theoretical arguments to prop it up. The current front-runner is as ‘the kernel of a Foucauldian “apparatus” for the knowledge society’ (Dini, Iqani and Mansell, 2011):

• ICT, innovation and development (musings on modernity, …). One of the most important insights I gained at LSE has been that “innovation” is not just about science, technology, and business. It is mostly about governance. The rest follows, in due course.

(from: Rivera Leon, Kataishi and Dini, forthcoming)

• Epistemological dialogues (critical engagement with complexity science, …). Very difficult to understand each other across some disciplines. For example, when attempting to relate objectivist to subjectivist traditions it is tempting to rely on the concept of “translation”. My own structuralist/modernist “upbringing” would make me jump at the opportunity to seek common ground (e.g. a shared meta-model that can be instantiated into the different disciplines), but I hesitate because such an approach could hardly be constructivist. Without the constructivist dimension we lose much of the social hermeneutics, whereas without models we lose much of the ability to interface to the immutability of objective physical law. So both are needed in a joint interdisciplinary effort, but they remain incommensurate. In other words, we are not talking about translating the same concept into two different languages; we are talking about relating two different concepts, which happen to be favoured by the two disciplinary viewpoints in question. In spite of these epistemological challenges, at a more applied level software appears to be able to sit comfortably between these two worlds, as shown in the figure
(Dini, Iqani and Mansell, 2011).

• Mathematics of bio-computing (biological symmetries, algebraic structures of automata, symbolic dynamics, …).

(from: Dini, Schreckling and Horvath, 2010)


While studying fluid mechanics I was introduced to the mathematical concept of symmetry through the particularly elegant similarity solution to the boundary-layer equations for laminar flow on a flat plate. Probably because my father was an architect I had always been intrigued by symmetry, so I could tell that was an important moment and that symmetry would stay with me. My mother, on the other hand, studied classics and was a teacher of Italian literature and history, so I think my interest in writing, language, and critical analysis comes from her.

The spinning figures below are the Platonic solids, which are useful for visualising symmetries. A symmetry is an invertible transformation that leaves some property of a mathematical object invariant. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the invertible transformations of a mathematical object that leave some property of its structure invariant form a group. The groups that are visualised by the Platonic solids show up in automata used to model cell metabolic pathways.


Some Professional Experience

From 1992 to 1997 I taught undergraduate physics at Carleton College and St Olaf College, Minnesota. During this time I continued to do research in low-speed aerodynamics, specifically in the analysis and design of wind turbine airfoils. I acted as a consultant for NREL and for two small wind turbine companies.

My more theoretical research centred around the analysis of a chaotic oscillator and the study of integrability of non-linear systems in general (especially from the perspective of Lie groups). The figure shows two snap-shots of the time-dependent (effective) potential used to visualise the behaviour of one such non-linear system. The state of the system is the red ‘ball’ rolling on this surface under the action of gravity.

In 1997 I switched to electronics and worked for a wearable computer start-up, ViA, for 3 years. At ViA I led a DARPA project to develop a ‘Dick Tracy watch’, i.e. a wrist-worn thin client for the ViA wearable computer (the figure shows the flexible motherboard of this interesting device). Years later I found out that our prototype was the first Bluetooth implementation in the US.

In 2000 I moved back to Europe (London) and for a year worked at Philips Research Laboratories, near Gatwick, in the Software Applications and Testing group.

Embryonic Social Science Triggers

At Philips I worked with some people from Philips Design on a prototype for portable (MP3) audio and for the first time saw technology from a completely different point of view: users were at the centre. I learned a bit about interaction design, industrial design, GUI design, user testing, and focus groups. Our prototype did not look at all like the iPod :).

In 2001 I moved to Dublin, where I took up a job as research group leader at Media Lab Europe (a collaboration between MIT and the Irish government). My group was called Dynamic Interactions and was looking at many forms of self-organisation: self-assembly of proteins around carbon nanotubes, swarms of software agents, resource sharing and optimisation in wireless networks from a game-theoretical point of view, biological software design patterns, qualitative social research in support of the deployment of a wireless network in the centre of Dublin, social construction of community identity through interactive narrative spaces accessible through the same wireless network, media literacy in disadvantaged communities.


In 2003 I moved back to London and joined the LSE Department of Media and Communications as a Senior Research Fellow, funded by the EU Integrated Project Digital Business Ecosystem (DBE), and started working with Prof Robin Mansell on what I gradually discovered to be the political economy of new media. Since DBE I led or participated in 9 additional projects:

BIONETS – Biologically-Inspired Networks and Services, Integrated Project (DG INFSO), Workpackage Leader (ended in Feb 2010; through LSE)

EULAKS – Connecting Research on the Knowledge Society between the European Union and Latin American and Caribbean Countries, Support Action (DG RESEARCH), Workpackage Leader (ended in October 2010; through LSE)

OPAALS, OPAALS-OKS – Open Philosophies for Associative Autopoietic Digital Ecosystems, Network of Excellence (DG INFSO), Coordinator (ended August 2010; through LSE)

SEQUOIA – Socio-Economic Impact Assessment for Research Projects, Support Action (DG CNECT), Coordinator (ended April 2012; through LSE)

EINS – Network of Excellence in Internet Science (DG CNECT), Research Partner (currently active; through LSE)

BIOMICS – Biological and Mathematical Basis of Interaction Computing, STREP (DG CNECT), Coordinator (currently active, through UH)

COMPARE – Interdisciplinary Exploration of Self-Organization in Practice, EINS Open Call Mini-Project (DG CNECT), Research Partner (currently active; through LSE). COMPARE is about the intersections between urban development, participatory design, community currencies, political theory, institutional economics, economic anthropology, and the Internet.

STRUCTNET – Algebraic Structure of Networks, EINS Open Call Mini-Project (DG CNECT), Coordinator (currently active; through LSE). In this project we are exploring connections between semigroups and graphs, generalisations of the eigenspectrum of graphs, and functions defined on graphs (for example Fourier series on groups following Audrey Terras’s work). – aims at opening access to existing legal information systems and proactively involving and integrating our target groups, i.e. communities of individuals and businesses, legal professionals and public bodies. Open innovation, mass customization, big data analysis, social features and social networks are already highly successful in other markets and we want to introduce them in the legal domain on a European scale. Based on open data, open source software and open innovation principles we are adding a “social layer” to the existing “institutional layer” of legal information systems. STREP (DG JUSTICE), Research Partner (starting in 2014, 2 years, through LSE)


Since January 2008 I have been affiliated also to the Biocomputation Laboratory (School of Computer Science) at the University of Hertfordshire, and in particular working with Prof Chrystopher Nehaniv’s group on biologically-inspired computing ideas and models. My hope is to be able to continue to develop two separate and largely independent disciplinary identities at LSE and UH, at each institution pursuing a different kind of intensely theoretical and interdisciplinary research.

Some Publications

Dini, P (Unpublished). Community Currencies and the Quantification of Social Value in the Digital Economy. LSE e-prints

Passani, A, Monacciani, F, Van Der Graaf, S, Spagnoli, F, Bellini, F, Debicki, M and Dini, P. SEQUOIA: A Methodology for the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of Software-as-a-Service and Internet of Services Research Projects, Research Evaluation. In press. Online full text

Dini, P, Nehaniv, CL, Egri-Nagy, A, Schilstra, MJ (2013). Exploring the Concept of Interaction Computing through the Discrete Algebraic Analysis of the Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction, BioSystems, 112(2), 145-162. LSE e-prints

Dini, P, Iqani, M, and Mansell, RE (2011). The (Im)Possibility of Interdisciplinarity: Lessons from Constructing a Theoretical Framework for Digital Ecosystems, Journal of Culture, Theory and Critique, 52(1), 3-27. LSE e-prints

Breitstein, L and Dini, P (2011). A Social Constructivist Analysis of the 2007 Banking Crisis: Building Trust and Transparency through Community Currencies, Journal of Banking Regulation. 13(1), 36-62. Web link ; LSE e-prints.

Dini, P, Lombardo, G, Mansell, RE, Razavi, A, Moschoyiannis, S, Krause, P, Nicolai, A and Rivera-Leon, L (2008). Beyond interoperability to digital ecosystems: regional innovation and socio-economic development led by SMEs, International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, Vol 1, No 3.

Darking, ML, Whitley, EA, and Dini, P (2008). Governing Diversity in the Digital Ecosystem, Communications of the ACM, Vol 51, No 10, pp 137-140.

Cipra, B, Dini, P, Kennedy, S, and Kolan, A (1999). Stability of One-Dimensional Inelastic Collision Sequences of Four Balls, Physica D, Vol 125, pp 183-200.

Dini, P, and Maughmer, MD (1994). Locally Interactive Laminar Separation Bubble Model, Journal of Aircraft, Vol 31, No 4, pp 802-810.

Dini, P, Selig, MS, and Maughmer, MD (1992). Simplified Linear Stability Transition Prediction Method for Separated Boundary Layers, AIAA Journal, Vol 30, No 8, pp 1953-1961.

Some Articles in Books

Dini, P, Nehaniv, CL, Egri-Nagy, A, Schilstra, MJ (2012). Algebraic Analysis of the Computation in the Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction, in Lones, M, Smith, SL, Teichmann, S, Naef, F, Walker, JA and Trefzer, MA (Eds) IPCAT2012: 9th International Conference on Information Processing in Cells and Tissues, Springer LNCS 7223, Cambridge, UK, 30 March-2 April, pp 216-224.

Rivera-León, L, Kataishi, R and Dini, P. The Socio-Economics of Digital Ecosystems Research: Policy Analysis and Methodological Tools from an Argentinean Case Study. In Innovation Support in Latin America and Europe: Theory, Practice and Policy in Innovation and Innovation Systems, selected papers from the 1st ISLAE Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, 3-4 December 2009. Ashgate. Forthcoming.

Dini, P and Schreckling, D (2010). A Research Framework for Interaction Computing, in Colugnati, FAB, Lopes, LCR and Barretto, SFA (Eds), Digital Ecosystems: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference, OPAALS 2010, Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil, 22-23 March, Springer LNICST, pp 224-244.

Dini, P, Schreckling, D and Horvath G (2010). Algebraic and Categorical Framework for Interaction Computing and Symbiotic Security. In Altman, E, Dini, P, Miorandi, D and Schreckling, D (eds), Paradigms for Biologically-Inspired Autonomic Networks and Services: The BIONETS Project eBook. Available from:

A Egri-Nagy, A, Dini, P, Nehaniv, CL and Schilstra, MJ (2010). Transformation Semigroups as Constructive Dynamical Spaces, in Colugnati, FAB, Lopes, LCR and Barretto, SFA (Eds), Digital Ecosystems: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference, OPAALS 2010, Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil, 22-23 March, Springer LNICST, pp 245-265.

Recent Conference Papers

Dini, Paolo and Sartori, Laura (2013). Science as social construction: an inter-epistemological dialogue between two internet scientists on the inter-epistemological structure of internet science, part 1. In: International Conference on Internet science, Brussels, April 9-11, 2013: conference proceedings. The FP7 European Network of Excellence in Internet Science, pp. 42-51. LSE e-prints

Dini, Paolo and Tiropanis, Thanassis (2013). The evolving dynamics of the internet layered architecture: innovation, net neutrality and the interdependence of structure and function. In: International Conference on Internet science, Brussels, April 9-11, 2013: conference proceedings. The FP7 European Network of Excellence in Internet Science, pp. 203-208. LSE e-prints

Dini, Paolo and Nehaniv, Chrystopher L. (2013). Diamond condition for commuting adjacency matrices of directed and undirected graphs. In: International Conference on Internet science, Brussels, April 9-11, 2013: conference proceedings. The FP7 European Network of Excellence in Internet Science, pp. 88-97. LSE e-prints

An Interesting Report

Dini, P, Milne C and Milne R (2012). Costs and Benefits of Superfast Broadband in the UK, LSE Enterprise report written for Convergys Smart Revenue Solutions. Click here

If I were a Springer-Verlag Graduate Text in Mathematics, I would be David Eisenbud’s Commutative Algebra with a view towards Algebraic Geometry. I am an attempt to write on commutative algebra in a way that includes the geometric ideas that played a great role in its formation; with a view, in short, towards Algebraic Geometry. I cover the material that graduate students studying Algebraic Geometry — and in particular those studying the book Algebraic Geometry by Robin Hartshorne — should know. The reader should have had one year of basic graduate algebra.Which Springer GTM would you be? The Springer GTM Test

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