Entrepreneurial Risks

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Blogs that discuss our work:

Knackered Hack
FT Alphaville
Technology Review

Return-risks in entrepreneurship

Scientific prediction of complex systems

Decision theory and collective behavior




We are located within the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics

"Risk is life, life is risk. Only death corresponds to sustainable equilibrium.
Any interesting out-of-equilbrium system (biological, ecological, societal, economic and so on) is prone to downside as well as upside risks, the non-certain outcomes that give rises to disruptions as well as opportunities."
D. Sornette, March 2012


10 October 2014: Prof. Didier Sornette is ranked #3 in 2014 by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) among the 50 most influential economists in research in the german speaking world.

10 October 2014: Didier Sornette contributed to the Architect Biennials in Venice, 4-6 Sept. 2014 in the Salon Suisse on (i) "Design – The Nature of Cities", (ii) "Systems, People and Power",  and (iii) "Scale, progress and durability", curated by Hiromi Hosoya and Markus Schaefer, sponsored by the Swiss Art Council, ProHelvetia.
27 August 2014: Property Report: market development analysis and forecast
(Diagnostic as of 2014-Q2). Where do real estate bubbles exist in Switzerland and how will the market develop? An analysis of more than one million listings of houses and flats for sale carried out every six months by ETH Zurich and provides a look into the future. (More information...)
22 May 2014: Black Swans or Dragon-Kings: N.N. Taleb (NY University), D. Sornette (ETH Zurich) and D. Riordan (CEO Zurich Global Corporate) debate the origin and appropriate response to systemic risks and financial fragility, Zurich meets New York Festival, New York, 22 May 2014. Watch the debate (from 03:15:00).

29 January 2014: Property Report: market development analysis and forecast
(Diagnostic as of 2013-Q4). Where do real estate bubbles exist in Switzerland and how will the market develop? An analysis of more than one million listings of houses and flats for sale carried out every six months by ETH Zurich and provides a look into the future. (More information...)
14 January 2014: Didier Sornette was elected to the rank of an AAAS Fellow (October 2013) for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications. The citation states "You are being honored for pioneering and novel developments in the prediction of crisis and extreme events in complex systems, with particular applications to risk assessment in economics and technology". Fellow induction ceremony in Chicago, 15 February 2014.
Best of 2013 of the "Schweizer Monat"
Didier Sornette: Viren, Inflation und Nuklearsprengköpfe (Juni 2013/Interview: Florian Rittmeyer und René Scheu)
5 December 2013: Financial crisis risk monitoring and positive and negative bubble risk maps become available from the Financial Crisis Observatory.
4 November 2013: "How to Control your Dragons", American Physical Society, Viewpoint Article by Adilson E. Motter

20 August 2013: Property Report: market development analysis and forecast
Where do real estate bubbles exist in Switzerland and how will the market deveolp? An analysis of more than one million listings of houses and flats for sale carried out by ETH Zurich (Chair of Entrepreneurial Risks) and provides a look into the future. The study is based on a mathematical model by Professor Didier Sornette (LPPL model). The asking prices for properties listed on from early 2005 to the end of June 2013 constitute the input data. (More information ...)
12 June 2013: Prof. Didier Sornette presented "How we can predict the next financial crisis" at TEDGlobal 2013, "THINK AGAIN" in session 4 entitled "Money talks", hosted by Chris Anderson TED Blog

Turbulent times ahead: Q&A with economist Didier Sornette

25 April 2013: Prof. D. Sornette delivers the colloquium entitled "The illusion of the perpetual money machine: what next? Diagnostic and forecast of future crises" at the Bank of International Settlement, Basel, Switzerland, with insightful and productive exchange with Jaime Caruana (General Manager), Claudio Borio (Deputy Head of Department of Research and Statistics) and many others.
22 April 2013: Our master student Omar Abdel Rahman has just completed a remarkable Master Thesis entitled "Are U.S. Student Loans the "Next Bubble"?". Given the great difficulty and controversial nature of the subject, which covers a broad range of economical, financial, social and political issues, Omar Abdel Rahman has found a prefect nuance with strong conclusions that contrast with everyone shouting "bubble".
21 March 2013: The joint work of the Chair of Entrepreneurial risks with the UNCTAD on the quantification of the endogeneity in dynamics of commodity prices was presented by ETH senior researcher Vladimir Filimonov at the conference  organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The work documents and quantifies strong speculative mechanisms of self-excitation in the dynamics of prices on the futures markets of crude oil and soft commodities. Video of the talk - Media coverage of the work
30 January 2013: Property Report: market development analysis and forecast
Where do real estate bubbles exist in Switzerland and how will the market develop? An analysis carried out by ETH (Chair of Entrepreneurial Risks) and The study is based on a mathematical model by Professor Didier Sornette (LPPL model). (More information...)

December 2012/January 2013:
The professor's winter sport with LogicWorkout

November 2012: Our master student Nicola Pestalozzi has just completed a remarkable quantitative Master Thesis on Earth Nighttime Lights to study economic and urban growth.
The work led to the following publication:Peter Cauwels, Nicola Pestalozzi and Didier Sornette,Dynamics and Spatial Distribution of Global Nighttime Lights, EPJ Data Science 3:2, 10.1186/epjds19 (2014)  (

( and

10 August 2012: How the brain makes decisions: Quantum Decision Theory - invited contribution to Mino's Memorial Symposium at the NASA Ames Conference Center, Bldg 3, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. Organized by Hisako and Friedemann Freund. 
11 June 2012: The Zurich Dissertation Prize has been awarded to Thomas Maillart, a former PhD student in our group and now post-doc at the ETH Centre for Law and Economics for his dissertation Mechanisms of Internet Evolution & Cyber Risk. The prize is handsomely endowed and funded by the Zurich Foundation. By supporting insurance-relevant research and education, Zurich Financial Services cultivates the broader ecology of risk investigation and awareness on which the insurance business ultimately depends.
24 May 2012: The paper in press in the Journal of Investment Stratgies presents a novel valuation methodology suggesting that Zynga has been overpriced ever since its IPO. From this diagnostic, on April 19, 2012, we posted on the arXiv a version of this paper with a trading strategy playing on two important coming events (the quarterly financial result announcement around April 26, 2012, followed by the end of a first lock-up period around April 30, 2012). The present in-press version includes a post-mortem analysis added on May 24, 2012 showing we have successfully predicted the downward trend of Zynga. Since April 26, 2012, Zynga droped 25%.
May 2012:

Facebook IPO
updated valuation and user forecasting

May 2012: D. Sornette and Guy Ouillon, editors of the special issue of The European Physical Journal; Special Topics on
Discussion and debate: from black swans to dragon-kings - Is there life beyond power laws?
Introduction and synthesis chapter:
Dragon-kings: Mechanisms, statistical methods and empirical evidence

Table of Content
December 2011:
How to Predict Risks


On YouTube:
November 2011: Optimization of brain and life performance: Striving for playing at the top for the long run
Essay written by D. Sornette, German version published as "Du kannst dein Leben steigern" in Schweizer Monat, Dezember 2011/Januar 2012; 38-49 (e-print available at
Version française
November 2011: The Facebook Bubble
Facebook's pending initial public offering is greatly anticipated by the media, investors and investment banks. To bring some substance into the debate, ETH senior researcher Peter Cauwels and Prof. Didier Sornette have estimated the company's value using a novel approach. They conclude that Facebook should be priced between 15 and 30 billion USD. A synthesis of the paper written by the authors can be found under the following link: . The full paper can be downloaded at


6 June, 2011: International Conference on Econophysics (ICE)
Closing remarks on "Visions on the future of econophysics" as co-chairman of the International Conference on Econophysics (ICE), East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST)

7 May 2011:
Didier Sornette goes to South Africa
Extraordinary lucky encounter with a young teenage leopard jumping on an Impala just as we drove in, filming the whole combat at a distance between 10 meters at the beginning down to 3 meters in the last few seconds of the fight. Taken within the National park of PILANESBERG in South Africa (

Being scientists working on rare and extreme events, this encounter is particularly striking to us as we estimate the probability to view such a fight to be exceedingly small, perhaps one in ten billion.


3 May, 2011:
Third FBE Results and Analysis

The third set of results from the FBE were published today. Results and analysis are available on the FCO webpage.

10 March 2011:
D. Sornette and S. Von der Becke, Complexity clouds finance-risk models (A response to Andrew G. Haldane & Robert M. May, Neil Johnson and Thomas Lux), Nature 471, 166 (
"long version: Systemic Risk in Banking: It is complex but not that complicated"

Haldan & May's Paper; Johnson and Lux

16 December 2010:
AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

Lorenz Lecture of the Nonlinear Geophysics Section of the American Geophysical Union, entitled "Dragon-Kings, Black Swans and Prediction".

16 September 2010:
Complexity vs Predictability
"Prediction Crisis and Triumph" (Can the complex system approach be useful to you?) invited talk at the ZURICH.MINDS Flagship Event at the Kaufleuten club hall downtown Zurich. (
Second FBE Results and Analysis
1 November, 2010
The second set of results from the FBE were published today. Results and analysis are available on the FCO webpage.
Financial Bubble Experiment - Initial Results
3 May, 2010
Professor Didier Sornette is convinced that financial markets are not just random. Consequently, his Financial Crisis Observatory conducted a daring experiment to prove that you can forecast financial bubbles. Today, Professor Sornette presented the results of the experiment at a press conference. Initial results and analysis of the FBE forecasts are available on the FCO webpage.
Bursting the Genomics Bubble
31 March 2010
Nature reports on research by Monika Gisler, Didier Sornette and Ryan Woodard, who argue that the Human Genome Project was a 'social bubble', analogous to the notorious economic bubbles in which investment far outstrips any rational cost-benefit analysis of the likely returns. Full article is here.
The Professor Who Chases Financial Bubbles
March 13, 2010
A Wall Street Journal PORTRAIT of Prof. Didier Sornette and the 'Financial Bubble Experiment'.
DARPA Network Challenge
December 5, 2009
Our recently departed post-doc, Riley Crane, has led a group of researchers at MIT to win a DARPA-Pentagon-sponsored contest to correctly identify the location of 10 red balloons distributed around the United States (link).
Financial Bubble Experiment
1 Nov, 2009
We introduce a new experiment involving the forecasts of the end of bubbles in financial time series using techniques developed over the past 15 years. More information can be found in the first delivery of the Financial Bubble Experiment.
Riley Crane joined MIT Media Lab
October 1, 2009

Riley Crane was a Postdoctoral Fellow in our group for three years and his collaboration is ongoing. He is now a Branco Weiss ``Society in Science'' senior Postdoctoral Fellow, working in Professor Pentlands's Human Dynamics Group, at the Media Lab at MIT. The highlight of his research at ETH is the demonstration of large-scale word-of-mouth epidemics at the origin of successes of videos in a large YouTube video database (link)

Dragon Kings, Black Swans and the Prediction of Crises
July 30, 2009
D. Sornette, International Journal of Terraspace Science and Engineering 2(1), 1-17 (2009), (
Featured on the FT blog "Dragon-king of the outlier events"
Economic Networks: The New Challenges
July 24, 2009
F. Schweitzer, G. Fagiolo, D. Sornette, F. Vega-Redondo, A. Vespignani, and D. R. White, Economic Networks: The New challenges, Science 325, 422-424 (2009)
Chinese Equity Bubble Prediction
July 10, 2009
Our analysis of this main Chinese equity index shows clear signatures of a bubble build up and we go on to predict its most likely crash date: July 17-27, 2009 (see paper).
CCSS International Workshop on Coping with Crises in Complex Socio-Economic Systems
June 8-12, 2009
Didier Sornette gave a keynote address entitled 'Financial Bubbles, Real-Estate Bubble, Derivative Bubbles and the Financial and Economic Crisis'

International Workshop on Seizure Prediction
June 4-7, 2009
Didier Sornette gave a 3 hour long keynote address on ``The Challenge of Prediction'' at the Fourth International Workshop on Seizure Prediction (ISPW4) in Kansas City, hosted by the Alliance for Epilepsy Research (
Workshop on Essentials of Effective Enterprise Risk Management
May 28, 2009

Financial Bubbles, Real Estate bubbles, Derivative Bubbles, and the Financial and Economic Crisis
April, 2009
This paper by Didier Sornette and Ryan Woodard ( will appear in the Proceedings of APFA7 (Applications of Physics in Financial Analysis,
Physicists Try To Predict The Economy
March 23, 2009
Article in the April issue of discusses the work of Sornette, Helbing and others who argue that our current crisis was in fact predictable and that the technology exists to make sure that it won’t happen again.
Investors Misperception
March 5, 2009
Shengsui Hu won the Doctoral Student Award at the Midwest Finance Association Annual Conference, Chicago, 2009 for his presentation Investors Misperception: A Hidden Source of High Markups in the Mutual Fund Industry
Hitotsubashi Interdisciplinary Conference
March 4, 2009
Professor Didier Sornette was invited to give a Plenary Lecture at the Hitotsubashi Interdisciplinary Conference on "New Approaches to the Analysis of Large-Scale Business and Economic Data" in Tokyo.
The Illusion of Control
March 1, 2009
Arguments for and against the reform of the international financial system following the 2008 banking crisis are slowly being more fully detailed. Not in political discourses, but thanks to scientific research which, in spite of its theoretical nature, can still provide reasonable, pragmatic solutions.
An interview with Didier Sornette (in French).
Honorary Professor
February 20, 2009
Prof. D. Sornette was conferred the title of "Honorary Professor'' by East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai.
Financial Trust Index
The mission of the Financial Trust Index is to monitor the level of trust Americans have in banks, the stock market etc. and to regularly assess how current events, policy and government intervention might affect this trust. Read the following comment on the 'Trust Crisis'.
Kings and Prediction
February 5, 2009
Didier Sornette gave an invited seminar at Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne)
Endo-exo model of the immune system and of pathogens
February 4, 2009
ETH life reviews 'Endo-exo model of the immune system and of pathogens' by Sornette D., Yukalov V.I., Yukalova E.P., Henry J.Y., Schwab D., Cobb J.P., Journal of Biological Systems 17(2), 225-267 (2009)
World Knowledge Dialogue
The Swiss university system is committed to bringing the two cultures of natural sciences and human/social sciences closer together. To meet the challenge it has created the World Knowledge Dialogue Foundation. Videos from past symposia can be viewed here.
Mathematical Distribution Links Open Source Software And Literature
February 2, 2009
ScienceDaily reports on research by Thomas Maillart et al.
The 2006-2008 Oil Bubble and Beyond
February, 2009
New paper by D. Sornette, R. Woodard and W.-X. Zhou. Physica A 388, 1571-1576 (2009).
Will CDS spreads tumble in February?
January 27, 2009
A Financial Times blog discusses analysis by Fortis bank using the theory of Didier Sornette.
Short- and long-term propositions for the financial crisis: back to the fundamentals
January 14, 2009
A new essay on the causes of the financial crisis and proposed solutions by Didier Sornette
Statistics: One size fits all
December 4, 2008
Nature reports on research by T. Maillart, D. Sornette, S. Spaeth, and G. von Krogh providing empirical evidence for Zipf's law in open source software. The full paper is published in PRL.
Inspiring Articles: The End
November 11, 2008
The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong. Read the full article, published in Portfolio Magazine.
YouTube research
November 11, 2008
ETHLife reports on Riley Crane and Didier Sornette's work that investigates the viewing patterns of YouTube videos. The full paper is published in PNAS.
Trust! Why it Has Been Lost and How to Regain It
November 4, 2008
This essay by Didier Sornette was published in the Occasional Paper Series of the Swiss Finance Institute.
Inspiring Articles: Options for Managing Systemic Bank Crises
November 1, 2008
White Paper on Systemic Bank Crises by Bernhard Lietaer et al. Also see the very interesting work of Bernhard Lietaer at
CCSS official opening
September 23, 2008
See the CCSS homepage.
The Financial Crisis Observatory (FCO)
August, 2008
The Financial Crisis Observatory was formed.

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