Helbing, Dirk, Prof. Dr.

Prof. Dr. Dirk Helbing

Computational Social Science 

CLU  E 1 

Clausiusstrasse 50

8092 Zürich


  • phone +41 44 632 88 80 
  • fax +41 44 632 17 67 
  • phone (Sec.) +41 44 632 88 81 
  • mail
  • vCard 

Additional information

Research area

Research at the Professorship of Computational Social Science aims at three-fold integration:
(1) bringing modeling and computer simulation of social processes and phenomena together with related empirical, experimental, and data-driven work,
(2) combining perspectives of different scientific disciplines (e.g. socio-physics, social, computer and complexity science), 
(3) bridging between fundamental and applied work.
The research focus has quickly moved from studying pedestrian crowds and vehicle traffic to studying social coordination, cooperation, norms, crime and conflict as well as collective opinion formation and the wisdom of crowds. The team uses methods such as evolutionary game theoretical modeling, agent-based computer simulations, as well as lab and web experiments. The analysis of Big Data, cultural science, real-time data mining ("Nervousnet", "Planetary Nervous System"), the creation of self-organizing systems, innovation and the investigation how science works, are further subjects of interest ("Innovation Accelerator"). The COSS team is also engaged in the study of systemic risks, and possible measures of risk reduction and disaster response, including earthquake resilience and advice on epidemic spreading.

Curriculum Vitae

Dirk Helbing is Professor of Computational Social Science at the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences and affiliate of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich. He earned a PhD in physics and was Managing Director of the Institute of Transport & Economics at Dresden University of Technology in Germany. He is internationally known for his work on pedestrian crowds, vehicle traffic, and agent-based models of social systems. Furthermore, he coordinates the FuturICT Initiative (http://www.futurict.eu), which focuses on the understanding of techno-socio-economic systems, using smart data. His work is documented in hundreds of scientific articles, keynote lectures and media reports worldwide. Helbing is an elected member of the prestigious German Academy of Sciences "Leopoldina" and worked for the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Complex Systems. He is also co-founder of the Physics of Socio-Economic Systems Division of the German Physical Society and of ETH Zurich’s Risk Center. In 2013, he became a board member of the Global Brain Institute in Brussels. Within the ERC Advanced Investigator Grant "Momentum" he works on social simulations based on cognitive agents. His recent publication in Nature discusses globally networked risks and how to respond. In a further publication in Science, he furthermore contributed to the discovery of the hidden laws of global epidemic spread. On January 10, 2014, he received a honorary PhD from Delft University of Technology, where he is now heading the PhD program "Engineering Social Technologies for a Responsible Digital Future".

Course Catalogue


Self-regulatory Information Sharing in Participatory Social Sensing.
Evangelos Pournaras, Jovan Nikolic, Pablo Velásquez, Marcello Trovati, Nik Bessis, and Dirk Helbing
EPJ Data Science, (2016) Heidelberg: SpringerOpen.
Revisiting Street Intersections Using Slot-Based Systems.
Remi Tachet, Paolo Santi, Stanislav Sobolevsky, Luis I. Reyes-Castro, Emilio Frazzoli, Dirk Helbing, and Carlo Ratti
PLoS ONE, (2016) San Francisco, CA: Public Library of Science.
Improving Pilgrim Safety During the Hajj: An Analytical and Operational Research Approach.
Knut Haase, Habib Zain al Abideen, Salim Al-Bosta, Mathias Kasper, Matthes Koch, Sven Müller, and Dirk Helbing
Interfaces, (2016).
Digitale Demokratie statt Datendiktatur.
Dirk Helbing, Bruno S. Frey, Gerd Gigerenzer, Ernst Hafen, Michael Hagner, Yvonne Hofstetter, Jeroen van den Hoven, Roberto V. Zicari, and Andrej Zwitter
Spektrum der Wissenschaft, (2016) Heidelberg: Spektrum der Wissenschaft, Verlagsgesellschaft.
Keep-Left Behavior Induced by Asymmetrically Profiled Walls.
C. L. N. Oliveira, A. P. Vieira, Dirk Helbing, J. S. Andrade, and Hans J. Herrmann
Physical Review X, (2016) Woodbury, NY: American Institute of Physics.



For a German version of this website click here.

Page URL: http://www.coss.ethz.ch/people/helbing.html
© 2016 Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich