The Atlantic Magazine featured the work of William Kennedy, Research Assistant Professor, Center for Social Complexity; Andrew Crooks, Associate Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences/Center for Social Complexity, and Computational Social Science PhD students, Talha Oz and Annetta Burger, in an article entitled “What Happens If a Nuclear Bomb Goes Off in Manhattan.” The Atlantic Magazine is well known for publishing articles on both American and global politics and featuring articles on business and technology.
The National Institute for Health selected Ms. Mariela Jennings for a highly prestigious and very competitive data science internship. The internship is with the Biomedical Informatics Applications Development Group, which is located in the DSITP Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. Leidos, Inc., a global science and technology solutions leader working to solve the world’s toughest challenges in defense, intelligence, homeland security, civil, and health markets, will manage the internship.
Ms. Jennings is a College of Science student majoring in Biology and minoring in Computational and Data Sciences (CDS). As a CDS minor, she is serving as a STARS student (Student Teachers and Researchers). Her STARS advisor, Dr. Joseph Marr, nominated Ms. Jennings due to her academic excellence and professionalism. Dr. Marr is quite proud of NIH’s selection.
CSS PhD students – Amy Hill, Brant Horio and Thomas Briggs – presented papers at the 2016 Winter Simulation Conference (WSC).
“WSC is the premier international forum for disseminating recent advances in the field of system simulation. In addition to a technical program of unsurpassed scope and quality, WSC provides the central meeting place for simulation practitioners, researchers, and vendors working in all disciplines in industry, service, government, military and academic sectors.”
Amy’s paper was entitled “Norovirus Outbreaks: Using Agent-Based Modeling to Evaluate School Policies” which examined the transmission of the Norovirus among elementary school classrooms, evaluating policies to reduce the number of children who become infected.
Brant’s paper coauthored with Juliette Shedd (Associate Dean, Administration, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University) was entitled “Agent-Based Exploration of the Political Influence of Community Leaders on Population Opinion Dynamics” and explored how community leaders can significantly contribute to consensus formation in peace agreements.
Tom’s paper coauthored with William Kennedy (Center for Social Complexity, George Mason University) was entitled “Active Shooter: An Agent-Based Model of Unarmed Resistance” explored the potential for limiting casualties should a small proportion of potential victims swarm a gunman.
The Federal Reserve Board awarded William Ampeh, Lead Technology Analyst Division of Research and Statistics and Computational Science and Informatics PhD student, the 2016 Special Achievement Award for his leadership on two important efforts related to the R statistical programming language.
William spearheaded the formation of a community to promote the use of R across a diverse group of users at the Board. R is open source and widely used outside the Board, so creating a critical mass of users at the Board will generate significant productivity gains and reduce our reliance on expensive proprietary alternatives. But realizing these gains requires creating a community support model; developing, vetting, and sharing code for common tasks; and encouraging individual sections to rewrite code. William stepped forward and has fostered a thriving community.
In addition, William developed and is teaching a course in R to Howard University students. He gathered interested Research Assistants (RAs) and Teaching Assistants (TAs) from the economics community at the Board to assist with the design and teaching of this class. This effort deepens our ties to Howard University and its students, and improves the skill sets of the Board’s RAs and TAs who are helping to teach the course.
“explosive growth of agent modeling over the past two decades in the social sciences, in business and government, and related areas, and offer a tour d’horizon of its present state and myriad applications. Looking forward, we will identify challenges and opportunities — Hilbert Problems, if you will — to shape the future of agent-based computational modeling.”
Josh and Rob each gave really impressive talks entitled “Agent-based modeling: From Napkins to Nations” and “The Adoption of Agent Computing over Time by Social Scientists as Compared to Game Theory and Experimental/ Behavioral Economics” respectively. Which reflected how agent computing has evolved over the last 20 years with plenty of funny anecdotes along the way including references and critiques of their works and where the field is going.
The Department of Computational and Data Sciences PhD program in Computational Social Science (CSS) was well presented at the Computational Social Science Society of the Americas (CSSSA) 2016 annual conference held in Santa Fe, NM.
The following CSS PhD students and faculty presented papers:
Salwa Ismail: Towards an ABM for civil revolution: Modeling Emergence of Protesters, Military Decisions, and Resulting State of the Institution.
Peter Revay: A Dual-Inheritance Model of Cultural Evolution with Agents.
Yang Zhou: The Origin of Agriculture in the Peiligang Culture: An Agent-based Modeling Approach.
Vince Kane: Metabolic basis of complex adaptive systems .
Thomas Briggs and Andrew Crooks: Close, But Not Close Enough: A Spatial Agent-Based Model of Manager-Subordinate Proximity.
Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, J. Daniel Rogers, Paul S. Schopf, Sean Luke, Jeffrey Bassett, Atesmachew Hailegiorgis, William G. Kennedy, Peter Revay, Meghan Mulkerin, Madeline Shaffer and Ermo Wei: MASON NorthLands: A Geospatial Agent-Based Model of Coupled Human-Artificial-Natural Systems in Boreal and Arctic Regions .
Joseph Shaheen, CSS PhD student, was recently invited to share some of his work at the NATO Defence Against Terrorism Centre of Excellence in Ankara, Turkey as a part of a Symposium on the relationship between Media and Terrorism.
His lecture, titled “Daesh’s Use of Social Media: Effective Use of Self-organizing Networks” discussed the process of analysis that was used to produce an earlier publication for the NATO STRATCOM Centre of Excellence, as well as showcased a new agent-based model developed at our program for the successful prediction of extremism on social media.
Congratulations to Joseph Harrison, who successfully defended his CSS doctoral dissertation entitled “A General Social Agent-Based Model of Opinion Dynamics With Applications To Stem Education And Radicalization.” Below is the abstract of his dissertation:
“Many aspects of our society are affected by how opinions change and ideology spreads (e.g., interest in STEM and political radicalization), but the underlying processes are not well understood. Previous attempts at modeling these phenomena have suffered from a lack of empirical data and/or insufficient grounding in social-psychological theory. Moreover, the field of opinion dynamics would benefit from a broader view of the discipline that captures the commonalities between different domains. This dissertation presents a general framework for agent-based modeling (ABM) of opinion dynamics called the meta-model and demonstrates it using ABMs in two significantly different domains: interest in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and political radicalization resulting from personal grievance. Both models are novel within opinion dynamics in that they update agent opinions using rules designed in conjunction with subject-matter experts, and because they make use of domain-specific data. They each make substantial contributions in their respective areas of study. The first model pertains to adolescents’ interest in the STEM fields and utilizes rich longitudinal data gathered annually over 3 years. The model is calibrated using evolutionary computation, validated using subsequent surveys, and used to explore potential intervention strategies. Of those evaluated, knowledge brokering and increasing friend co-participation are shown to be demonstrably promising. The second domain, political radicalization, is explored using an ABM based on a psychological theory of radicalization grounded in the Significance Quest (SQ) theory of Kruglanski et al. (2009, 2013, 2014) and the multi-path theory of Cioffi-Revilla (2010). The model is calibrated using data from potential jihadists in Morocco, and used to explore network effects of the psychological (i.e., individual-level) radicalization processes. It shows that the psychological processes do indeed increase the number of extremists on the group level. The model shows that when traumatic events are relatively rare, exposure to diverse opinions can reduce/prevent radicalization.”
Joey’s committee members were Drs. Claudio Cioffi, Ken de Jong, Matthew Hendrey and Arie Kruglanski.
Rob Axtell recently gave a keynote talk at the 2016 Duke Forest Conference whose theme was “Economics in the Era of Natural Computationalism and Big Data”. Robs talk was entitled “Is Agent Computing the New Calculus for Social Interactions?” An abstract of his talk can be seen below
In “Games and Economic Behavior” von Neumann and Morganstern famously wrote that “[m]athematical discoveries of a stature comparable to that of the calculus will be needed in order to produce decisive progress in [game theory].” One of these men was a great mathematician while the other a noted mathematical economist. Soon after writing the founding volume of game theory, and before von Neumann’s work on cellular automata, they each worked on digital computing. Given the machines of the day it was natural to conceive of computation as a way to solve equations. Today we use agent computing in a fashion that abstracts from the explicit solution of equations. Is it possible that the new discovery the von Neumann sought for game theory was, in some sense, right under his nose – the digital computer–but that he did not have either the right hardware or software to see such a solution? This and related questions will be examined in this talk.
CSS PhD student Talha Oz presented a paper entitled “Attribution of Responsibility and Blame Regarding a Man-made Disaster: #FlintWaterCrisis” at the 4th International Workshop on Social Web for Disaster Management (SWDM’16) which was co-located with CIKM 2016 on October 28th, 2016.
“Attribution of responsibility and blame are important topics in political science especially as individuals tend to think of political issues in terms of questions of responsibility, and as blame carries far more weight in voting behavior than that of credit. However, surprisingly, there is a paucity of studies on the attribution of responsibility and blame in the field of disaster research. The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure at all levels. By studying microblog posts about it, we understand how citizens assign responsibility and blame regarding such a man-made disaster online. We form hypotheses based on social scientific theories in disaster research and then operationalize them on unobtrusive, observational social media data. In particular, we investigate the following phenomena: the source for blame; the partisan predisposition; the concerned geographies; and the contagion of complaining. This paper adds to the sociology of disasters research by exploiting a new, rarely used data source (the social web), and by employing new computational methods (such as sentiment analysis and retrospective cohort study design) on this new form of data. In this regard, this work should be seen as the first step toward drawing more challenging inferences on the sociology of disasters from “big social data”.”
Talha Oz, T. and Bisgin H. (2016) Attribution of Responsibility and Blame Regarding a Man-made Disaster: #FlintWaterCrisis, 4th International Workshop on Social Web for Disaster Management, Indianapolis, IN.