Computing Sciences at Bocconi University


Riccardo Zecchina is a theoretical physicist and the Head of the new Department of Computing Sciences at Bocconi University in Milan.

Computing sciences are contributing to an ongoing process that is breaking down disciplinary barriers among hard sciences and is seeing social sciences and economics to widely adopt methodologies related to computational science and modeling.

“Theoretical and applied computer sciences, physics and mathematics, computational sciences for biology, for neuroscience and for the social sciences, developed at different times and, in large universities around the world, ended up creating distinct departments,” Riccardo Zecchina, a theoretical physicist appointed as Head of the new Department of Computing Sciences at Bocconi University, Milan, says, “but these worlds are increasingly dialoguing with each other. It is science itself that is breaking down barriers, and we, by forming in 2022, have taken note of this, creating a unique department that aims to create the preconditions for developing innovative research in many fields.”

Professor Zecchina is also convinced that the adoption of methodologies related to computational science and modeling in social sciences and economics “is just beginning and is, indeed, destined to accelerate.”

The common denominator of a modern department of computing sciences, according to Prof. Zecchina, “is the study of the most challenging and fundamental problems in computational and information sciences and the computational and modeling aspects in social, mathematical, physical and life sciences. Research in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning makes us expect fascinating developments. One for all: the approach to cognitive science also (but not only, of course) through computational neuroscience and machine learning. It means understanding what neural circuits and artificial intelligence systems (that are evolving very rapidly and can be simulated with great efficiency) have in common. Also, since economics is about modeling human behavior, I guess that the contribution will be two-way: economics will contribute strongly to the development of artificial intelligence.”

Joining the Department, just to name the scholars with the most seniority, are theoretical physicists such as Zecchina himself and Marc Mezard, theoretical computer scientists (Luca Trevisan), computational biologists (Francesca Buffa), cryptographers (Alon Rosen), computational linguists (Dirk Hovy), and optimization experts (Laura Sanità, coming in September).


Written by Fabio Todesco (Bocconi University)