Martin Hilbert

Martin Hilbert

Position Title

370 Kerr Hall


  • Ph.D., Communication, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, 2012
  • Ph.D., Economics and Social Sciences, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, School of Economic and Social Sciences, Germany, 2006
  • Dipl.-Kfm. (Master of Business Administration), Diplom-Kaufmann University, Prädikat, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, School of Economic and Social Sciences, Germany, 2003


Martin Hilbert is Professor at the University of California, Davis, where he studies the role of digital information and algorithms in complex social systems. He holds doctorates in Economics and Social Sciences (2006) and in Communication (2012), is associated with Communication and Computer Science at UCD, and chairs the campus’s designated emphasis in Computational Social Science. His work is recognized in academia for the first study that assessed how much information there is in the world; in public policy for having designed the first digital action plan with the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations; and in the popular media for having alerted about the intervention of Cambridge Analytica in the campaign of Donald Trump a year before the scandal broke. Before he joined academia, he served as Economic Affairs Officer of the United Nations Secretariat for 15 years, where he created the Information Society Program for Latin America and the Caribbean. Prof. Hilbert provided technical assistance in the field of digital development to more than 20 countries and dozens of publicly traded companies as digital strategist. His work has been published in the most recognized academic journals, such as Science, Psychological Bulletin, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and World Development, and regularly appears in popular magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Economist, NPR, BBC, Die Welt, among others.

Research Focus

Professor Hilbert is interested in both the theory and practice of digitalization. In search for a deeper theoretical understanding of the workings of the digital age, he uses the formal mathematical tools of information theory to develop a coherent intellectual framework for analyzing information societies. At the same time, his research monitors and analyzes the practical implications of the incessant evolution of the digital age, including questions of AI and ethics, and the effects of digitalization on the scientific method ('computational social science').




Professor Hilbert walks the talk of digitalization by employing a carefully selected mix of online and offline educational tools for his course offerings. Innovative digital methods for education allow for unprecedented possibilities in terms of interdisciplinary collaboration, fostering of diversity, mass-customization for tailored student needs, and international reach. Professor Hilbert teaches undergraduate online courses on "Digital Technology and Social Change" (CMN 170V) and "Computational Social Science" (CMN 150V), as well as a MOOC on Complex Systems in Spanish, and diverse graduate-level courses on information theory (aka the 'mathematical theory of communication').