Peter J. Mucha

Department of Mathematics
Carolina Center for Interdisciplinary Applied Mathematics
Department of Applied Physical Sciences
Curriculum in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Duke Network Analysis Center
Seminar in Network Analysis at Carolina
Director of the Chairs Leadership Program, Institute for the Arts & Humanities

Research:  We embrace an interdisciplinary approach to data science focused on networks and network representations. We use mathematical models and statistical principles to develop and apply computational tools for the study of real-world data, working in close collaboration with domain science experts. With “nodes” representing objects of interest and “edges” that connect the nodes representing relationships or similarities, the concept of a network can be flexibly used across many applications. Most people are familiar with the concept of a network in terms of hyperlinked web pages or online social networks, and online networks are indeed an area of broad interest (including some of our own work). But networks can be successfully applied to a much wider variety of connected systems, and our group’s collaborations have included researchers in departments of Archaeology, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Finance, Geography, Infectious Diseases, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Pharmacy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy, Sociology, and Statistics, among others.

Group:  Our research group currently includes postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers, working on different aspects of networks and data science, including developments in community detection, network representations of data, modeling network dynamics, and diffusive processes with applications to disease and health behaviors. Our group is diverse and inclusive, supporting each others’ efforts as we work on individual projects and find natural collaborations when opportunities present themselves. Because our work is fundamentally interdisciplinary, we also collaborate with a number of other students and faculty from other departments and universities.

  • Postdocs:  Zach Boyd, Eun Lee and Emma Smith
  • Graduate students:  Austin Ferguson, Andrew Hinton (co-advised with Wesley Burks) and William Weir (co-advised with William Kim)
  • Undergraduate researchers:  Rachel Augustine, Chad Covin, Scott Emmons, Ryan Gibson, Vanessa Lin, Daniel Paydarfar, Alex Proca and Eileah Zugger.

My other pages:

  • NetWiki is our old dual-purpose wiki about network science, including space both for private collaborations and public posting of data and links. While we no longer actively maintain most of this wiki, the publicly-available lists of data and links remain there. We also keep there the latest release of our GenLouvain code, a generalized Louvain method for community detection implemented in MATLAB.
  • Random Walker Rankings is my blog with Thomas Callaghan about mathematics and statistics in sports, with special emphasis on our RW/RWFL rankings of college football.
  • Carolina Corollaries is the online newsletter that I previously edited for the Department of Mathematics (this online edition started when I was Chair of the Department).

Biographical Sketch: Peter Mucha is a Professor of Mathematics and Applied Physical Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Born in Texas and raised in Minnesota, Mucha moved east to attend college at Cornell University where he majored in Engineering Physics. After a Churchill Scholarship studying in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge with an M.Phil. in Physics, he returned to the States to continue his studies at Princeton with an M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied and Computational Mathematics. Following a postdoctoral instructorship in applied mathematics at MIT, and a tenure-track assistant professorship in Mathematics at Georgia Tech, he moved to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he has served as chair of the Department of Mathematics, the founding chair of the Department of Applied Physical Sciences, and is the current Director of the Chairs Leadership Program at the Institute for the Arts & Humanities. His awards include a DOE Early Career PI award and NSF CAREER award. At UNC, he was recognized with a Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professorship for excellence in undergraduate teaching and he was named to the inaugural cohort of the Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award. Mucha’s research includes a variety of topics in the mathematics of networks, including network representations of data, community detection, and modeling dynamics on and of networks. His group’s activities are fundamentally interdisciplinary, applying tools of network analysis and data science in collaborations across the mathematical, physical, life, and social sciences.

Pronunciation: If you really want to get it right, my last name is pronounced the same way as Alphonse Mucha’s (sound file). The Americanized pronunciation I use myself sounds like the vowel and ‘k’ in the word “book” (/’mʊk-a/).