Science Gateways Community Talk: Complex Social Sciences Gateway

Start date
04/04/2014 12:00 EDT
End date
04/04/2014 13:00 EDT
866-939-8416, Passcode: 4906909#
Posted by Suresh Marru on 04/04/2014 00:27 UTC

This week’s XSEDE Science Gateway Community call features a talk by Dr. Douglas White from University of California, Irvine introducing the Complex Social Sciences Gateway.

Call Time: 04/04 (Friday) at Noon Eastern (9 am Pacific).
Audio Line: Ph: 866-939-8416, Passcode: 4906909#
Web Conference:, Passcode: 4906909 (without the #)

Talk Abstract:
The Complex Social Science (CoSSci) Gateway linked to our Trestles-based Galaxy serves global databases on knowledge of the ecology and past Ethnographics of the Lives of World Peoples using software analytics far beyond the specific datasets and problems they address. They solve both the missing data imputation problem and the more difficult problem of correction for multiple sources of autocorrelation endemic to observed variables datasets. One is the “Standard Cross-Cultural Sample” which was a major project of mine along with Peter Murdock from the 1960s-70s. We created anthropology’s first “cumulative” dataset, allowing the first collaborative samples to which hundreds and now thousands of different variables have been created by hundreds of researchers). The future of the CoSSci Galaxy, however, is much broader because we aim at extensive collaborations across disciplines and countries, oriented both to online coursework and research in all those major social sciences subfields that go beyond experiments to observed populations: large-scale Econometrics, International research in Political Science, large-scale comparative work in Sociology, historical dynamics on a world scale, and so forth, and involving faculty from IU, the UC system, and elsewhere, worldwide, including China, which hosted our first online class in fall 2003, being taught annually. These classes are small, e.g., under 50 students, with immersive projects that start with at topic explored in successive steps at CoSSci’s Virtual Machines at UC Irvine and the Santa Fe Institute, and soon, elsewhere, ending with a completed model for beginning to understand how a network of variables interrelate. The next stage of development is to move the focus to Trestles by analysis of the larger sets of fully imputed variables using Bayesian network analysis and path analysis of observed variables, with use of the Trestles R library(bnlearn) for large networks of variables and Aike Information AICc and BIC criteria, following their use in epidemiology, and bootstraps for clustering alternative models in large networks of variables and for our larger datasets intersecting world ecological data, the world ethnographic atlas, and databases for forager economies and their environments.

Speaker Bio:
Douglas R. White, PhD Minnesota, 1969, and born in 1942 in Minneapolis, is a social anthropologist whose work includes mathematical modeling and network analysis and simulation in sociology. His fields of study include political economic and social networks, ethnohistorical sociology, comparative and long-term ethnographic studies, global political history, and the role of cohesive kinship and marriage networks in larger sociopolitical systems. Partly schooled as an exchange student in Madrid, he did graduate school as a Traveling Scholar on a National Institute of Mental Health predoctoral Fellowship at Columbia, Minnesota, and Michigan and is considered at Wikipedia to be a major theorist in Political and Case-Study/Network Anthropology (Manchester School) as a PhD student of E. Adamson Hoebel. Having worked and taught extensively in Europe, his long-term awards and offices include the Alexander von Humboldt Distinguished Senior Scientist in Germany, the Ministry of Research bourse in Paris, one-year chair of the French Complex Systems Network, and two-year research directorship in the Irish Republic Ministries of Finance and the Gaeltacht. He taught and is Emeritus at the University of California, Irvine (Anthropology and Institute of Mathematical Behavioral Sciences), where he chairs the faculty in Social Dynamics and Complexity. He serves as a complexity sciences external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute, editor of the UC Structure and Dynamics eJournal, editor and sysop of the InterSciWiki in complexity and network sciences, and senior editor of the Wiley Companion to Cross-Cultural Research, which led him to become the lead scientist in constructing the UCI Social Science Gateway for Complex Social Sciences (CoSSci).

White is interested in the big questions of how global structure and dynamics relate to local level processes. How do societies, cultures, social roles, organizations, polities, cities and city systems, and historical agents of change and innovation evolve and interact dynamically out of multiple networks of social action? How do these entities maintain or lose sustainability? How does the network structure of the world political economy interact with the opportunity and constraint structures of more localized social activity? To what extent do diffuse “weak-tie” structures and focused “strong tie” networks of trust, for example, as distinct from structurally cohesive networks, operate to construct social class, ethnicity, gender role, social cognition, and the particular social structures of local communities embedded as they are in a larger political economy? How are economic configurations, transport systems and trade, defensive and aggressive coalitions, and innovations in religion and beliefs configured by network dynamics? The CoSSci Gateway and Science Galaxy is capable of exploring many of the issues in these fields of study through its cross-cultural databases of coded data on roughly 3,000 ethnographically described societies (a standard sample of collaboratively coded societies, a forager and environmental sample, Western Indians, and a large Ethnographic Atlas).

Please contact if you have trouble seeing the presentation or joining the audio conference.