Research Topic

At the Crossroads: Lessons and Challenges in Computational Social Science

About this Research Topic

The interest of physicists in economic and social questions is not new: for over four decades, we have witnessed the emergence of what is called nowadays “sociophysics and econophysics” that can be grouped into the common term “Interdisciplinary Physics”. With tools borrowed from Statistical Physics and ...

The interest of physicists in economic and social questions is not new: for over four decades, we have witnessed the emergence of what is called nowadays “sociophysics and econophysics” that can be grouped into the common term “Interdisciplinary Physics”. With tools borrowed from Statistical Physics and Complexity, this new area of study have already made important contributions, which in turn have fostered the development of novel theoretical foundations in Social Science and Economics, via mathematical approaches, agent-based modelling and numerical simulations.

At the turn of the century, however, it was clear that huge challenges –and new opportunities– lied ahead: the digital communication technologies, and their associated data deluge, began to nurture those models with empirical significance. Only a decade later, the advent of the Web 2.0, the Internet of Things and a general adoption of mobile technologies have convinced researchers that theories can be mapped to real scenarios and put into empirical test, closing in this way the experiment-theory cycle in the best tradition of Physics.

We are nowadays at a crossroads, at which different approaches converge. We name such crossroads Computational Social Science (CSS): a new discipline that can offer abstracted (simplified, idealized) models and methods (mainly from Statistical Physics), large storage, algorithms and computational power (Computer and Data Science), and a conceptual framework for the results to be interpreted (Social Science).

This Research Topic aims to grasp how CSS spreads out in many interwoven fronts, each of which is a challenge per se. We are thus interested in any of the following topics:

1. Structure and dynamics of multiplexed social systems
2. Online communication: Temporal and geographical patterns of information diffusion
3. Online socio-political mobilizations, collective action, social movements.
4. Urban growth and mobility
5. Social sensors and real-time monitoring
6. Event modelling, tracking and forecasting in social media
7. Peer-production and collaborative knowledge creation
8. Interdependent social contagion process
9. Crowd-sourcing; herding behaviour vs. wisdom of crowds
10. E-democracy and online government-citizen interaction
11. Social influence, public attention and popularity dynamics
12. User-information interplay: information ecosystems
13. Group formation, community detection and dynamic community structure analysis.
14. Social simulation: cultural, opinion, and normative dynamics
15. Empirical calibration and validation of agent-based social models
16. Science of science and scientometric modelling


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