Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


Cliodynamics bannerUC Riverside


Cliodynamics is a transdisciplinary area of research integrating historical macrosociology, cultural and social evolution, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access journal that publishes original articles advancing the state of theoretical knowledge in this transdisciplinary area. In the broadest sense, this theoretical knowledge includes general principles that explain the functioning, dynamics, and evolution of historical societies and specific models, usually formulated as mathematical equations or computer algorithms. Cliodynamics also has empirical content that deals with discovering general historical patterns, determining empirical adequacy of key assumptions made by models, and testing theoretical predictions with data from actual historical societies. A mature, or ‘developed theory’ thus integrates models with data; the main goal of Cliodynamics is to facilitate progress towards such theory in history and cultural evolution.

This journal is available for sharing and reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 International License which means that all content is freely available without charge to users and their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author.

Cliodynamics is a member of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Scopus

Volume 1 Issue 1 2010


Launching the Journal

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History.

A Dynamic Theory of Battle Victory and Defeat

Victory or defeat in battle is modeled as a set of flow charts for dynamic simulation. Two main causal pathways are: from material resources via logistics to firepower at point of assault; and from organizational morale (emotional energy, coordination, discipline) to maneuver. According to empirical research by the author and others, the crucial event is organizational breakdown, which is more strongly affected by maneuver than by firepower of assault, and which leads to battle victory or defeat. Casualties are more strongly affected by organizational breakdown than by assault firepower. Additional pathways lead to attrition, feedbacks to material resources and to morale, and to long-term war outcomes and geopolitical consequences. Revolutions in military technology do not require a separate model or new theory, since all technological innovations operate by changing the strength of pathways in the basic model. These models give a more precise understanding of Clausewitzian friction or “fog of war.”

Synthezing Secular, Demographic-Structural, Climate and Leadership Long Cycles: Moving Toward Explaining Domestic and World Politics in the Last Millennium

Among approaches to explaining global history, the secular cycles and leadership long cycle schools emphasize much different phenomena. The former stresses processes highlighting demographic pressures and the rise and fall of land powers. The latter focuses on trading states, maritime activities, and economic growth pulsations. While the two research programs seemingly possess little in common, appearances may be deceiving. By elucidating their overlapping emphasis on structured punctuations in demographic/dynastic cycles with significant changes in global political economy, it is possible to show how the two schools of thought are complementary. A more integrated approach, encompassing population, disease, war and economic growth dynamics, should enhance our understanding of changes in global history.

Cycling in the Complexity of Early Societies

Warfare is commonly viewed as a driving force of the process of aggregation of initially independent villages into larger and more complex political units that started several thousand years ago and quickly lead to the appearance of chiefdoms, states, and empires. Here we build on extensions and generalizations of Carneiro’s (1970) argument to develop a spatially explicit agent-based model of the emergence of early complex societies via warfare. In our model polities are represented as hierarchically structured networks of villages whose size, power, and complexity change as a result of conquest, secession, internal reorganization (via promotion and linearization), and resource dynamics. A general prediction of our model is continuous stochastic cycling in which the growth of individual polities in size, wealth/power, and complexity is interrupted by their quick collapse. The model dynamics are mostly controlled by two parameters, one of which scales the relative advantage of wealthier polities in between and within-polity conflicts, and the other is the chief’s expected time in power. Our results demonstrate that the stability of large and complex polities is strongly promoted if the outcomes of the conflicts are mostly determined by the polities’ wealth/power, if there exist well-defined and accepted means of succession, and if control mechanisms are internally specialized.


Why Has the Number of International Non-Governmental Organizations Exploded since 1960?

The rapid expansion of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) numbers in the last half-century is usually explained to be a result of decolonization, globalization, and/or increase in the number of global issues. One additional hypothesis, which has not been discussed in the political science literature, is suggested by the demographic-structural theory. According to this hypothesis, the acceleration in INGO numbers was caused by the post-war baby boom and a crisis in the credential system. This study finds that cyclical increases in INGO numbers were preceded by expansions in the 30–39 cohort. Interestingly, the mean age of leaders across 12 international governmental institutions also oscillated, but with a lag (thus correlated with expansions of the 55–64 cohort). Thus evidence supports the idea that demographic-structural mechanisms contributed to the surge in INGO numbers during the last 50 years as a by-product of intraelite competition.

  • 1 supplemental PDF

Book Reviews

New Patterns in Global History: A Review Essay on Strange Parallels by Victor Lieberman

A Review Essay on Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830. Volume 2: Mainland Mirrors: Europe, Japan, China, South Asia, and the Islands by Victor Lieberman (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

The Silk Road: A Review Essay on Empires of the Silk Road by Christopher I. Beckwith

The Silk Road: A Review Essay on Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. by Christopher I. Beckwith (Princeton University Press, 2009).

Tests in Time: A Review of Natural Experiments of History, edited by Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson

A Review of Natural Experiments of History, edited by Jared Diamond and James Robinson (Belknap Press, 2010).

Accumulation of Knowledge in Theoretical History: A Review Essay on Historical Macrosociology by Nikolai S. Rozov

Accumulation of Knowledge in Theoretical History A Review Essay on Historical Macrosociology: Methodology and Methods by Nikolai S. Rozov (Novosibirsk State University, 2009).

Regularities in Human Actions: A Review of Bursts by Albert-László Barabási

Regularities in Human Actions A Review of Bursts: The Hidden Pattern behind Everything We Do by Albert-László Barabási (Dutton, 2010). This is a joint review by two authors. Its first part was written by An ZENG who is a PhD student at Beijing Normal University and a researcher in network science. The second part was written by Bertrand ROEHNER who is a physics professor at the University of Paris and a visiting scholar in the Department of Systems Science of Beijing Normal University. Written from two different perspectives, the two reviews should complement one another.