Mason Hosts Social Simulation Congress

Posted: July 14, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Colleen Kearney Rich

The only time most people come in contact with computer models and simulated environments is when playing video games.

Few people know that there is a small but growing group of researchers, computational social scientists, who are using these technologies for experiments and analysis.

Mason Professor Claudio Cioffi-Revilla and his colleagues at the Center for Social Complexity in the the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study are among a handful of scientists exploring the frontiers of social science through computer simulation models.

On Monday, July 14, the center is hosting a gathering of these scientists from around the world at the Second World Congress on Social Simulation. The conference runs until July 17 on the Fairfax Campus.

Universities, research labs and think tanks represented at the congress include Carnegie Mellon University, Argonne National Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology, CPM Manchester of the United Kingdom, ETH Zurich of Switzerland and a host of other global participants from Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. The conference is expected to draw academic, government and business participants from disciplines in the social and computer sciences.

Agent-based modeling simulations, social network analysis and other advanced computer-based approaches will be presented through lectures by internationally distinguished scientists.

Some of the papers being presented include “Virtual City Model for Simulating Social Phenomena,” “Multi-Agent Simulation for Generating Expressive Music Performance,” “Understanding the Role of Worker Interdependence in Team Selection” and “A Social Network Model of Direct versus Indirect Reciprocity in a Corrections-Based Therapeutic Community.”

As Cioffi, congress co-chair, comments, “The human sciences of the 21st century will be computational.”

Tutorials, which offer participants the opportunity to demonstrate the latest advances in selected software and computer models, occur daily throughout the conference, in addition to workshops and roundtables. Topics range from purely theoretical studies to current or emerging policy applications, such as urban systems, defense applications and public health issues.

A special tutorial includes MASON, the simulation modeling system invented by Cioffi’s colleague and collaborator, Mason computer science professor Sean Luke, together with students.

The congress is sponsored by the North American Association for Computational Social and Organizational Sciences, the European Social Simulation Association and the Pacific Asia Association for Agent-Based Systems Science. This is only the second time the congress has convened. The first meeting was held in Kyoto, Japan, in 2006, and the next will be held in Europe in 2010.

Mason was chosen as the site of this congress by an international committee of computational social scientists, based on a peer-review process that selected the Center for Social Complexity at the Krasnow Institute.

For more information about this year’s congress, visit the web site.

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