False dichotomies (and synonymies)

August 19, 2010

It’s been a while. Let me allow you a few moments to catch your breath over the surprise of me posting (a real post) here again.

…[twiddles thumbs] [taps foot] [checks watch]…

OK, feel better? On with it.

Back in the middle-stages of grad school, i started to hear a lot of harumphing* about the frustrations of qualitative folks and all of the “quant-shop” requirements of our particular program. At the same time, i couldn’t help but notice the dismissiveness of some of the most quantitatively oriented folks towards brilliant qualitative work we’d occasionally discuss. Now, i know that the quant-qual divide was not unique to our program, is not something new to sociology, and has been pointed out as a false dichotomy by many (more qualified) folks who’ve passed through these ranks before.

But what strikes me today is that for some reason, in my limited experience at least, most folks also assume a necessary overlap between “mathematical” sociology and “quantitative” sociology… Read the rest of this entry »


Mathematical Sociology at ASA

August 13, 2010

Ron Breiger emailed the mathematical sociology section listhost with the schedule for mathematical sociology at this years annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, held in Atlanta. I thought it could be useful to post it to the blog so you’ll find it pasted below. I may be kept from attending due to an illness in the family, but if I attend I may try to do a little live-blogging of some sessions, so check back and comment!


SATURDAY, 6:30 – 8:15 pm (Marriott): Reception (joint with Rationality & Society and Evolution and Society; Marriott)

MONDAY, 8:30 – 10:10 am. Regular Session: Mathematical Sociology (Hilton)
MONDAY, 10:30 – 12:10 pm. Regular Session: Mathematical Sociology II (Hilton)

TUESDAY, 8:30 – 10:10. Paper Session. New Developments in Mathematical Sociology (Marriott)
TUESDAY, 10:30 – 11:30. Invited Panel: Next Steps in Mathematical Sociology (Marriott)
TUESDAY, 11:30 – 12:30. Awards Presentations and Business Meeting: All invited! (Marriott)
TUESDAY, 12:30 – 2:20, Paper Session: Mathematical Sociology at Key Intersections of the Discipline (Marriott)


Saturday, 6:30 pm (Marriott). Reception (joint with Rationality & Society and Evolution & Society)

Monday, 8:30 am (Hilton). Regular Session: Mathematical Sociology. Organizer and Presider: Barbara F. Meeker (University of Maryland-College Park)
a) Statistical Puzzles Generated by Mathematical Sociology. Guillermina Jasso (New York University), Samuel Kotz (George Washington University)
b) How to Use Graph Theory to Study Social Science Sequence Data. Fabio Rojas (Indiana University), Amia K. Foston (Indiana University – Bloomington)
c) The Dynamics of Synchronization in World Systems: A Formal Model. Robert Alan Hanneman, Jesse Bradford Fletcher, Christopher Chase-Dunn, Kirk S. Lawrence, Hiroko Inoue, Richard Evan Niemeyer, Jacob Apkarian ( all at University of California-Riverside)
d) Contrasting Emotions Predicted by Affect Control Theory for Similar Social and Reflexive Behaviors. Jesse Kenneth Clark (University of Georgia)

Monday, 10:30 am. (Hilton). Regular Session: Mathematical Sociology II. Organizer and Presider; Barbara F. Meeker
a) How do Cultural Classes Wmerge From Assimilation and Distinction? An Extension of Cucker-Smale Model. Jeong-han Kang (Yonsei University), Kyung-Kuen Kang (Seoul National University)
b) How Social Influence Generates Overconfidence in the Wisdom of Crowds. Heiko Rauhut (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich)
c) Predictability of ‘Unpredictable’ Cultural Markets. Richard Colbaugh (Sandia National Laboratories and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) and Kristin Glass (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology)
d) The Persistence of a Pluralistic Society in Continuous Models of Opinion Dynamics. Michael Maes (University of Groningen), Andreas Flache (University of Groningen), Dirk Helbing (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich)

Tuesday, 8:30 am (Marriott). Section on Mathematical Sociology Paper Session: New Developments in Mathematical Sociology. Organizer: David R. Schaefer (Arizona State University)
a) Cognitive models of group identification: a case study in regional self-identification. Zack W. Almquist (University of California-Irvine)
b) Modeling World-Systems in the Early Evolutionary Period: ecological and spatial formation of social complexity. Hiroko Inoue (University of California-Riverside)
c) Toward a Social Algebra: Prerequisites and Prospects. David L. Sallach (University of Chicago)
d) Extended Structures of Mediation: Re-examining Brokerage in Dynamic Networks. Emma S. Spiro (University of California-Irvine), Ryan M. Acton (University of California-Irvine), Carter T. Butts (University of California-Irvine)

Tuesday, 10:30 am (one hour; Marriott). Section on Mathematical Sociology Invited Session. Next Steps in Mathematical Sociology. Organizer and Presider: Ron Breiger (University of Arizona). Panelists: Sun-ki Chai (University of Hawaii), John Levi Martin (University of California-Berkeley), Dawn T. Robinson (University of Georgia), John Skvoretz (University of South Florida)

Tuesday, 11:30 am (one hour, Marriott). Section on Mathematical Sociology Award Presentations and Business Meeting – All invited!

Tuesday, 12:30 pm (Marriott), Section on Mathematical Sociology Paper Session. Mathematical Sociology at Key Intersections of the Discipline. Organizer and Presider: Matthew E. Brashears (Cornell University).
a) Dynamic Logic of Norms: Evolution of Macro Entailment Structures. Lorien Jasny (University of California-Irvine)
b) Effects of Individual and Group-Level Properties on the Robustness of Emergency-Phase Communication Networks. Sean Fitzhugh (University of California-Irvine)
c) Predictive Analysis for Social Diffusion: The Role of Network Communities. Richard Colbaugh (Sandia National Laboratories and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology), Kristin Glass (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology)
d) Discussant: Paulette Lloyd (University of Indiana-Bloomington)

P ≠ NP ?

August 8, 2010

Daniel Martin Katz at the Computational Legal Studies Blog just posted this:

P ≠ NP ? [ Vinay Deolalikar from HP Labs Publishes His Proof to the Web, $1 Million Clay Institute Prize May Very Well Await ]

After sending his paper to several leading researchers in the field and acquiring support, Vinay Deolalikar from HP Labs has recently published P ≠ NP to the web. While it has yet to be externally verified by folks such as the Clay Mathematics Institute, it looks very promising. Indeed, this very well represent a Millennium Prize for Mr. Deolalikar. For those interested in additional information, check out Greg Baker’s blog (which broke the story). Very exciting!

This has come up once before on this blog. I’ll paste the previous entry below:

Does P=NP?

If P=NP, then the world would be a profoundly different place than we usually assume it to be. There would be no special value in “creative leaps,” no fundamental gap between solving a problem and recognizing the solution once it’s found. Everyone who could appreciate a symphony would be Mozart; everyone who could follow a step-by-step argument would be Gauss; everyone who could recognize a good investment strategy would be Warren Buffett. It’s possible to put the point in Darwinian terms: if this is the sort of universe we inhabited, why wouldn’t we already have evolved to take advantage of it? – Scott Aaronson (reason #9)

When you have some free time, watch this amazing lecture by Avi Wigderson about one of the great open problems in all of mathematics.

Update, 7/10 1pm: Scott Aaronson thinks there are probably good ideas in the paper, but ultimately he remains highly skeptical this is THE proof.