Cesar A. Hidalgo

Director, Collective Learning Group, MIT
Founder, Datawheel



César A. Hidalgo is a Chilean physicist, author, and entrepreneur. He is currently the head of MIT’s Collective Learning group and a founder of Datawheel. Hidalgo received his PhD in Physics from the University of Notre Dame and has a Bachelor in Physics (Licenciatura) from Universidad Católica de Chile.

Professor Hidalgo is a multidisciplinary scholar working in Complexity, Data Science, Data Visualization, Economic Geography, and Artificial Intelligence.

His contributions to economic geography and economic development include work documenting the path dependencies that govern the process of economic development (Hidalgo et al. Science 2007, Jara-Figueroa et al. PNAS 2018), and the creation of measures of economic complexity that explain and predict differences in income, economic growth, and income inequality (Hidalgo & Hausmann, PNAS 2009, Hartmann et all. 2017). His urban computing work pioneered the use of crowdsourcing and computer vision methods to measure the physical quality of streetscapes and their implications (Salesses et al. Plos One 2013, Naik et al. EECV 2014, AER 2016, & PNAS 2017). His collective memory work has documented the role of language translations (Ronen et al. PNAS 2014) and communication technologies in collective memory (Jara-Figueroa et al. Plos One 2019) and has documented empirical laws of memory decay (Candia et al. Nat. Comm. 2018). His data visualization work includes the creation of numerous platforms that integrate distribute and visualize large volumes of public data, including The Observatory of Economic Complexity, Pantheon, DataUSA, DataAfrica, and DataChile, among others.

Hidalgo’s contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2018 Lagrange Prize, three Webby Awards (DataUSA, DataAfrica, & Streetchange), an Information is Beautiful Award (DataUSA), and the Bicentennial Medal of the Chilean Congress, among others. Hidalgo's is the author of Why Information Grows (Basic Books, 2015), which has been translated to over ten languages, and an author of The Atlas of Economic Complexity (MIT Press, 2014). Hidalgo is ranked in the top 5% of all economic authors in Ideas REPEC in eight categories, including citations discounted by age and abstract views. Hidalgo is also a founder of Datawheel LLC, a company that has professionalized the creation of large data visualization engines.


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Lagrange Prize (ISI - CRT Foundation, Turin, Italy) (2018)
Best Use of Machine Learning: Streetchange, Webby Award (2018)
Best Government and Civil Innovation Site: DataAfrica, Webby Award (2018)
Indigo Design Award, DataChile (2018)
Best Government and Civil Innovation Site: DataUSA, Webby Award (2017)
Twenty Most Influential Latinos in Technology, C-NET (2017)
Best Commercial Project: DataUSA, Information is Beautiful Award (2016)
Technological Person of the Year, Chiletec (2015)
Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum (2013)
Bicentennial Medal of Science, Congress of Chile (2011)
Computational Science and Visualization Award, University of Notre Dame (2008)