Dr. Pietro Gravino

Assistant Researcher


We often relate to innovation as if it could be an answer to our questions and needs. But what if innovations are actually the questions? Each advance raises an increasing number of open questions. On one side they unlock a wider range of opportunities, possibly leading to new discoveries (both at a collective and individual level). On the other side, each creative exploit can have a potentially huge impact on humans, at cultural, societal, and psychological level. The focus of my research is twofold: the study of the exploration of the space of the unknown (in particular the so-called Adjacent Possible) and the assessment of the impact of this exploration on humans. I try to understand exploration behaviours in cultural systems, how creativity can emerge in such processes and the impact of innovations. The aim is to learn how we can use technology to “augment” our exploration and to improve our creativity.

Language dynamics is a rapidly growing field that focuses on...
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Kreyon City is a unique experience whose challenge is that...
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The Citychrone platform (, originally developed by Sapienza University of...
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The rise of Information Age is transforming our world and,...
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Anticipation processes concerns all cases in which the next occurrence...
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A key research target is the direct individuation of the...
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Creativity is more and more recognized as the main driver...
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A quantitative and operational definition of what is new is...
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Significance and popularity in music production

creativity music
Bernardo Monechi, Pietro Gravino, Servedio Vito D. P., Tria Francesca, Vittorio Loreto,

Royal Society Open Science, 4, 7, The Royal Society, 2017.


Crossing the horizon: exploring the adjacent possible in a cultural system

Pietro Gravino, Bernardo Monechi, Servedio Vito DP, Tria Francesca, Vittorio Loreto,

submitted to ICCC 2016 - The Seventh International Conference on Computational Creativity, Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Computational Creativity, June 2016, 2016.

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It is common opinion that many innovations are
triggered by serendipity whose notion is associated
with fortuitous events leading to unintended
consequences. One might argue that this
interpretation is due to the poor understanding of
the dynamics of innovations. Very little is known,
in fact, about how innovations proceed and samples
the space of potential novelties. This space is
usually referred to as the adjacent possible, a
concept originally introduced in the study of
biological systems to indicate the set of
possibilities that are one step away from what
actually exists. In this paper we focus on the
problem of defining the adjacent possible space, and
analyzing its dynamics, for a particular system,
namely the cultural system of the network of movies.
We synthesized to this end the graph emerging from
the Internet Movies Database (IMDb) and looked at
the static and dynamical properties of this
network. We deal, in particular, with the subtle
mechanism of the adjacent possible by measuring the
expansion and the coverage of this elusive space
during the global evolution of the system. Finally,
we introduce the concept of adjacent possibilities
at the level of single node and try to elucidate its
nature by looking at the correlations with
topological and user annotation metrics.


Unveiling political opinion structures with a web-experiment

Pietro Gravino, Caminiti Saverio, Sirbu Alina, Tria Francesca, Servedio Vito D.P., Vittorio Loreto,

COMPLEXIS 2016, 1st International Conference on
Complex Information Systems, Rome, 22-24 April 2016,

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The dynamics of political votes has been widely
studied, both for its practical interest and as a
paradigm of the dynamics of mass opinions and
collective phenomena, where theoretical predictions
can be easily tested. However, the vote outcome is
often influenced by many factors beyond the bare
opinion on the candidate, and in most cases it is
bound to a single preference. The voter perception
of the political space is still to be elucidated. We
here propose a web experiment (laPENSOcos`ı) where
we explicitly investigate participants’ opinions on
political entities (parties, coalitions, individual
candidates) of the Italian political scene. As a
main result, we show that the political perception
follows a Weber-Fechner-like law, i.e., when ranking
political entities according to the user expressed
preferences, the perceived distance of the user from
a given entity scales as the logarithm of this


On the Emergence of Syntactic Structures: Quantifying and Modeling Duality of Patterning

Vittorio Loreto, Pietro Gravino, Vito DP
, Tria Francesca,

Topics in cognitive science, 8, 2, Wiley Online Library, 2016. pp.469--480.

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The complex organization of syntax in hierarchical
structures is one of the core design features of
human language. Duality of patterning refers for
instance to the organization of the meaningful
elements in a language at two distinct levels: a
combinatorial level where meaningless forms are
combined into meaningful forms and a compositional
level where meaningful forms are composed into
larger lexical units. The question remains wide open
regarding how such a structure could have
emerged. Furthermore a clear mathematical framework
to quantify this phenomenon is still lacking. The
aim of this paper is that of addressing these two
aspects in a self-consistent way. First, we
introduce suitable measures to quantify the level of
combinatoriality and compositionality in a language,
and present a framework to estimate these
observables in human natural languages. Second, we
show that the theoretical predictions of a
multi-agents modeling scheme, namely the Blending
Game, are in surprisingly good agreement with
empirical data. In the Blending Game a population of
individuals plays language games aiming at success
in communication. It is remarkable that the two
sides of duality of patterning emerge simultaneously
as a consequence of a pure cultural dynamics in a
simulated environment that contains meaningful
relations, provided a simple constraint on message
transmission fidelity is also considered.