Stefano Balietti

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. (E.B. White)

Short Summary


I am a postdoc at the Northeastern Network Science Institute and a fellow at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science. My methodology of investigation brings together agent-based computer simulations and laboratory and online behavioral experiments. My current research agenda revolves around the study of human behavior in large-scale natural and ad-hoc-built virtual environments. I use bots to trigger specific conditions, and artificial intelligence to determine optimal experimental designs (Bayesian methods and advanced machine learning).

My research interests encompass:
  • incentives schemes for collective intelligence, in particular peer review systems;
  • optimal experimental designs, bayesian optimization with Gaussian processes;
  • consensus formation and social influence, in particular in epistemic communities;
  • equality and efficiency in public-goods games;
  • efficiency in coordination games;
  • philosophy of science, in particular Paul Feyerabend's body of work.

I am also an active developer. I created a JavaScript platform for conducting real-time online behavioral experiments directly in the browser called nodeGame ( I have been also project leader of the QScience platform for the QLectives project (

For further information check my Bio.


"Adding noise to the Institution: An Experimental Welfare Investigation of the Contribution-Based Grouping Mechanism" H.H. Nax, S. Balietti, R.O. Murphy, and D. Helbing Social Choice and Welfare (forthcoming) [Link]
"How Do Individuals Share the Costs of Climate Change Mitigation? Evidence from an Online Game Experiment" B. Anderson, T. Bernauer, and S. Balietti Climatic Change Volume 142, Issue 3-4, pp. 447-461 [Link]
"Peer Review and Competition in the Art Exhibition Game" S. Balietti, R.L. Goldstone, and D. Helbing, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Volume 113, Number 30 (2016) 8414-8419 [Link]
"nodeGame: Real-Time, Synchronous, Online Experiments in the Browser" Behavior Research Methods (forthcoming) [Link 1] [Link 2]
"On Disciplinary Fragmentation and Scientific Progress" S. Balietti, M. Mäs, D. Helbing PLoS ONE 10(3): e0118747. [Link]
"Agent-Based Modeling" D. Helbing, S. Balietti book chapter in 'Social Self-Organization'. Series: Understanding Complex Systems. Helbing, Dirk (Ed.) Springer, (2012) 25-70 [Link]
"Understanding, Creating, and Managing Complex Techno-Socio-Economic Systems: Challenges and Perspectives" D. Helbing, S. Balietti, S. Bishop and P. Lukowicz The European Physical Journal - Special Topics. Volume 195, Number 1 (2011), 165-186 [Link]
"From Social Data Mining to Forecasting Socio-Economic Crises" D. Helbing and S. Balietti The European Physical Journal - Special Topics. Volume 195, Number 1 (2011), 3-68 [Link]
"From Social Simulation to Integrative System Design" D. Helbing and S. Balietti The European Physical Journal - Special Topics. Volume 195, Number 1 (2011), 69-100 [Link]
"How to Create an Innovation Accelerator" D. Helbing and S. Balietti The European Physical Journal - Special Topics. Volume 195, Number 1 (2011), 101-136 [Link]
"Fundamental and Real-World Challenges in Economics". D. Helbing and S. Balietti Science and Culture 76(9-10), 399-417 [Link]

Working Papers

The Market Structure for Innovation and Creativity
Optimal Experimental Design: A Bayesian Framework
Tournaments for Collective Intelligence: a Survey of the Literature
Efficiency Gains in Coordination in Information Poor Environments [Link]
Paul Feyerabend's Peer Review

Book Reviews

Models of Science Dynamics: Encounters Between Complexity Theory and Information Sciences (Understanding Complex Systems) Scharnhorst, Andrea, Boerner, Katy and Besselaar, Peter van den (eds.) Springer-Verlag: Berlin, 2012 [Link]


"Online Social Experiments with Nodegame" (tutorial presentation) SocInfo 2012, Dec 05th - 07th, 2012
"nodeGame: Social Experiments in the Browser" (poster) New Developments in Signaling and Game Theory, Oct 14th - 19th, 2012
"A Model of Adaptive Convergence in Science" Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft DPG-2013 Regensburg, Mar 11th - 15th, 2013
"The Art Exhibition Game" 15th International Conference on Social Dilemmas Zurich, Jul 10th - 13th, 2013
"On Fragmentation and Scientific Progress" Social Simulation Conference SSC-2014 Barcelona, Sep 1st - 5th, 2014
"On Fragmentation and Scientific Progress" European Conference on Complex Systems ECCS-2014 Lucca, Sep 22st - 26th, 2014
"nodeGame: a tool for real-time on-line behavioral experiments" General Online Research GOR15 Cologne, Mar 18th - 20th, 2015
"Dissolving the efficiency-equality tradeoff in public-goods games" Social Norms and Institutions SNI2015 Monte Veritá Ascona, May 10th - 15th, 2015
"Competition Promotes Diversity and Innovation, but Undermines Fair Peer Review" International Conference on Computational Social Science IC2S2 Helsinki, Jun 8th - 11th, 2015
"The Market Structures for Innovation" Code @ MIT, Oct 14th - 15th, Cambridge, MA 2016
"The Market Structures for Creativity" North American Economic Science Association Conference ESA16, Tucson, AZ, Nov 10th - 12th, 2016
"The Market Structures for Innovation" International Conference on Social Informatics SocInfo-2016, Bellevue, WA, 15th - 17th Nov, 2016 (Best Lightening Talk Award!)
"Science Meets Industry: Online Behavioral Experiments with nodeGame" Node.js Interactive North American, Austin, TX, 29th Nov - 2nd Dec, 2016


Lorentz workshop "Simulating the Social Processes of Science" Leiden (NL), 7-11 Apr 2014
"Multi-Agent Simulation (MAS) and Global Issues" University of Tokyo, Komaba Campus I, Tokyo (JP), 19 Feb 2015
"Innovations in Online Experiments" University of Oxford, Nuffield Center for Experimental Social Sciences, Oxford (UK), 13 Mar 2015
"Financial Inclusion Workshop" Innovation for Poverty Action, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 14 May 2016

Reviewer for

EPJ Data Science
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS)
Frontiers in Psychology, section Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology
Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science
Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination
Journal of Computational Science
Royal Society Open Science
Social Simulation Conference 2016
Social Simulation Conference 2015
Social Simulation 2014
World Congress Social Simulation 2014
ESSA 2013
ICACI 2012


Special mention in the "Exeter Prize for Research in Experimental Economics, Decision Theory and Behavioral Economics 2017," paper "Peer Review and Competition in the Art Exhibition Game"
Best Lightening Talk Award "The Market Structure For Innovation" SocInfo 2016

European Projects

VISIONEER: Envisioning a socio-economic knowledge collider
QLectives: Quality Colletives
FuturICT: Participatory Computing for Our Complex World
COST Action PEERE: New Frontieers of Peer Review

Invited Presentations

"HTML5 nice to meet you" QLectives winter workshop on web technologies, Fribourg 2010-10-19
"Scholarly peer-review process (pros and cons) and possible alternatives for the selection of quality in Science" International MSc and PhD Programs in Complexity Sciences ISCTE Seminar, Lisbon 2010-10-30
"Imitation and innovation in networked groups, and a new experimental framework for collective behavior experiments" Percepts and Concepts Laboratory Colloquium (IU), Bloomington (IN) 2012-10-05


Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB 2010 Fall Semester
Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB 2011 Spring Semester
Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB 2011 Fall Semester
Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB 2012 Spring Semester
Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB 2012 Fall Semester
Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB 2015 Fall Semester
Block course 19 - 23 Oct @ ETH Singapore Center SEC: Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB (and other tools)
Block course 16-17 Nov 2015 @ CES Nuffiled College Oxford: Programming Synchronic Online Experiments using NodeGame

Software Development

NDDB.JS - Javascript N-Dimensional Database
JSUS - Javascript Utils (JSUS Helps!)
msssm - Modeling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB

Bibtex References

All my bibtex files are available for download at the github socialbib repository.

Public Writings

"Here's how competition makes peer review more unfair," The Conversation, New Republic Aug. 8 2016

Art Projects

"Faces of change." Ten Percent White, Warsaw Center for Contemporary Art December 18, 2012 - February 10, 2013

Media Coverage

Online Behavioral Experiments Happening With nodeGame and Node.js, Blog. (Nov 14, 2016)
Peer review system 'leads to good research going unpublished', Times Higher Education. (July 26, 2016)
Can we trust peer review? New study highlights some problems, Ars Technica. (July 20, 2016)
Wikileaks wirft ethische Grundfragen auf, (Dec 6, 2010)
Quando l'economia incontra la fisica, Il Blog di Caccia al Fotone. (Jan 7, 2011)
Geheimhaltung ist fuer das Wohl einer Gesellschaft entscheidend, Tages Anzeiger. (Dec 12, 2010)
The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet, MIT Technology Review. (Dec 3, 2010)