Applying Agent-based Simulation Software and Sociological Theory to Decision Making

Teams and Goals


Team participants are listed in alphabetical order, beginning with faculty members, then research assistants. Project Director Sun-Ki Chai is a member of all of the teams (and is therefore not explicitly listed), and a number of members have split assignments between multiple teams.

Social Sciences Theoretical Team

Individual and Structural Attributes
Major cultural attributes and general assumptions about cultural change among individuals and groups in interaction with political and economic structure will be generated in operational form using Grid-Group framework for culture representation and the Coherence model of cultural change.

Cultural Change, Action, and Structural Effect Model
General assumptions about relationship between culture, political and economic structure, and decision-making will be generated in operational form. Specific assumptions about cultural subattributes relating to group allegiances and human rights ideologies will be included, as well as additional assumptions about structural and institutional influences on violent political action against outside groups will be included.

Network and Content Model for Web Analyzer
We will designing crawling algorithms that reflect social network models and content analysis to determine the boundaries of virtual communities representing particular groups, and to mine website content on those communities to determine formal cultural attributes of those groups.

Min-Sun Kim
Jang-Hyun Kim
Mooweon Rhee
Research Assistant
Ming Liu

Social Sciences Empirical Team

A Priori Experimental Validation of Grid-Group/Coherence Framework
Experiments within the UH Laboratory for the Computer-Mediated Study of Culture will examine the basic assumptions behind the cultural models by examining interactions between members of different identity groups and/or the effect of forms of interaction on induced value and belief change.

Retrospective Testing of System Predictions
The predictions of the simulation/decision-support system will be tested by using historical datasets.

Katerina Sherstyuk
Research Assistants
Olga Bogach
Dolgorsuren Dorj
Quincy Edwards
Ming Liu

Area Studies and History Team

Case Studies of Ethnic Conflict
Area experts will write exploratory qualitative case studies, studying the operationalization of theoretical variables developed by the theory and the ability of the theories to generate accurate predictions. Studies will be used to suggest additional variables and/or variable relationships that must be included in the overall model of ethnic mobilization.

Ethnic Group Dataset
The project task involving identification of cultural materials and coding by subject matter experts will include the creation of a new culture/ethnicity dataset that will be the basis for populating the parameters for our ethnic identity and conflict models. The dataset will be one that is unique in social sciences in that it will include data on "latent" cultural groups - i.e. groups that share ascriptive characteristics but have not as of yet engaged in political actions within the boundaries described by such characteristics. Experts on world regions will identify ethnographic sources of text information on cultures, language concordances used in natural language processing. Focus will be on a limited set of key cultures. Coding will be time-specific, and allow for sub-national distinctions. The experts will also examine codings on cultural values and beliefs from textual material in order to suggest corrections and refinements.

Validation of Web Analysis Output
The content analysis output of the web crawler used to determine values for cultural attributes of groups will be subject to face validity tests by subject matter experts, and where they fail alternative values of cultural variables will be suggested. A global corrective database comparing crawler estimation to human expert determination will be used to refine the exploring and content analysis algorithms of the web crawler.

Abdul Karim Khan
Min-Sun Kim
Ilan Noy
Research Assistants
Cecilia Castillo
Quincy Edwards
Kiran Sagoo

Computer Science Team

Design of Simulation System Architecture
Computer scientists will develop an agent-based simulation based upon the models provided by the theoretical team, with variables populated by the data provided by the area studies team. The assumptions and output to their simulation will be tested and validated by the empirical. The platform used for this simulation is the Repast Agent Simulation Toolkit, the Java-based open-source platform. CCPV CS has adapted RePast so that we can run RePast non-interactively, which allows us to run a different copy of RePast with different input parameters on each of the 96 nodes of the ICS department Dell Cluster Supercomputer.

Design, Testing, and Enhancement of User Interface
Expert knowledge of human-computer interaction will be applied to ensure that the system provides simple and convenient ways for users to specify the political scenarios they wish to examine, and obtain the depth of information that they require, from simple deterministic predictions to complex contingency diagrams. Techniques for modeling classes of users to customize interactions will be implemented.

Coding and Testing of Web Analyzer
This will involve coding of the crawling and content analysis models provided by the theoretical team will be implemented using the Nutch Java-based open source web search platform. Besides information obtained from crawled sites sites themselves, public internet-based resources will be used to obtain information about about the characteristics of the sites, such as links in, popularity, and registration data.

David Chin
Scott Robertson
Research Assistants
Kar-Hai Chu
Pantaleo DeCandia
Dong-Wan Kang
Robert Puckett
Kiran Sagoo
Evan Yazawa