The Social Dynamics and Complexity group at UCI is a degree-granting subgroup within the Mathematical Behavioral Sciences Ph.D. program at UC Irvine. It was founded in 2004 in order to advance Anthropology as a scientific discipline, addressing biological, cognitive, social and cultural aspects of human societies with a special focus on dynamic and evolutionary processes. The MBS encourages applications for the PhD program for students interested in pursuing an Anthropology or Social Science degree with strong emphasis on mathematical modeling, computational and quantitative methods, and cross-disciplinary linkages.
We investigate a simple generative model for network formation. The model is designed to describe the growth of networks of kinship, trading, corporate alliances, or autocatalytic chemical reactions, where feedback is an essential element of network growth. The underlying graphs in these situations grow via a competition between cycle formation and node addition. After choosing a given node, a search is made for another node at a suitable distance. If such a node is found, a link is added connecting this to the original node, and increasing the number of cycles in the graph; if such a node cannot be found, a new node is added, which is linked to the original node. We simulate this algorithm and find that we cannot reject the hypothesis that the empirical degree distribution is a q-exponential function, which has been used to model long-range processes in nonequilibrium statistical mechanics.
Agents producing and exchanging knowledge are forming as a whole a socio-semantic complex system. Studying such knowledge communities offers theoretical challenges, with the perspective of naturalizing further social science, as well as practical challenges, with potential applications enabling agents to know the dynamics of the system they are participating in. The present thesis lies within the framework of this research program. Alongside and more broadly, we address the question of reconstruction in social science. Reconstruction is a reverse problem consisting of two issues: (i) deduce a given high-level observation for a considered system from low-level phenomena; and (ii) reconstruct the evolution of high-level observations from the dynamics of lower-level objects. In this respect, we argue that several significant aspects of the structure of a knowledge community are primarily produced by the co-evolution between agents and concepts. In particular, we address the first reconstruction issue by using Galois lattices to rebuild taxonomies of knowledge communities from low-level observation of relationships between agents and concepts; achieving ultimately an historical description (including inter alia field progress, decline, specialization, interaction -- merging or splitting). Using the framework of a socio-semantic network, or "epistemic network," we then micro-found several stylized facts regarding the empirically observed structure: we exhibit processes at the level of agents accounting for the emergence of epistemic community structure. After assessing empirical interaction and growth processes, and assuming that agents and concepts are co-evolving, we successfully propose a morphogenesis model rebuilding relevant high-level stylized facts. We finally defend a general epistemological point related to the methodology of complex system reconstruction, eventually supporting our choice of a co-evolutionary framework.
Collaborative Long-Term Ethnography and Longitudinal Social Analysis of a Nomadic Clan In Southeastern Turkey
Longitudinal network analysis is coupled in this study to a systematic analysis of the results of long-term ethnography of a nomadic group. Data collection using genealogical, interview and observational methods is complemented by analytic methods using graph theoretic concepts and dynamical as well as structural methods to assess various cross-cutting and hierarchical levels of social cohesion (nuclear and extended families, lineages, clans, tribal groups, and village or nationality affiliations as found within the nomad group) to formulate and test hypotheses about social mobility and political leadership. Predictive hypotheses about the inverse relation between out-mobility and social cohesion versus the direct relation between cultural transmission and marital relinking as a form of cohesion are thought to validate the basic approach. The model of distributed cohesion developed from these data provides a new understanding of processes supporting the emergence of leaders in egalitarian nomadic groups.