As part of my work exploring the notion of tipping points I did some work looking at abstract models of populations of Banks. This work actually follows on from earlier work (soon to be published in the Journal of Business History) looking at the development of the British Banking sector. It takes a look, through modelling and simulation, at how the banking sector might have developed had history been different ,while trying to contribute to the debate around what a tipping point is and can it be modelled. Modelling tipping points is difficult because the moment you decide that that is what you are doing, then you have already biased your work. You will inevitably build something that is at least capable of undergoing a tipping point. This paper attempts to explore this problem though the lens of banks. Full text, Bursting a Bubble: Abstract Banking Demographics to Understand Tipping Points?
A new paper is out (PLoS One so free to all), lead by Alberto Acerbi (Bristol Uni), and co-authored by Vasileios Lampos (Sheffield uni), myself (Durham Uni) and R. Alexander Bentley (Bristol Uni). Its a really fun paper looking at the changing pattern in the use of emotion words in the English language during the 20th Century. We make use of Google’s Ngram data. Google scanned approximately 4% of all books and generated a dataset of yearly world frequencies. We mined this dataset to extract the changing frequencies of emotion words throughout the 20th century.
In the data we can see the frequency of words expressing emotions such as anger, fear, joy, sadness, and disgust changing in line with historical events. Large social/cultural events like the World War II, the roaring 20s and the swinging 60s all show up as frequencies changes of words. Interestingly the World War I doesn’t seem to appear in the data, however the Great Depression in the 1930s does. We also expected, due largely to cultural stereo typing, that US books would be more emotional that UK. This is supported by the data, but the split occurs much more recently than we thought it might. Generally throughout the 20th century the frequency of emotion words has been declining, with one exception, fear. Could that be linked to the climate of fear that has developed during the latter half of the 20th century?
The paper has been really well received in the media, Alberto was interviewed for BBC Radio 4s Material World by Adam Rutherford. Alex and myself were interviewed for NPR.
New google ngrams paper it coming soon! It should be the start of a productive few months paper wise.
Our new data mining and modelling paper is out today, “Word Diffusion in Climate Science“. Investigating the diffusion of climate science words in the Google ngrams dataset. We make observation that there is often a disjoint between the findings of science and the impact it has in the public domain. This existence of a disjoint is particularly significant when it is important the science reaches the public. Our hypothesis is that important keywords used in the climate science discourse follow “boom and bust” fashion cycles in public usage. If these cycles are linked to the science leaving the public eye then perhaps scientist need to think about they can do to ensure important findings reach as many people as possible.
Being something of a fan of big data the opening of the ODI comes with great interest. I am about to head down to London for their Open Data Hack days. Not exactly sure what to expect, haven’t been to a hack day that is like this exactly, but I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. Just getting a sense of what they are about will be worth the trip. My own use of big data thus far has been more with close data sources that have been created to answer particular questions. Not including Google ngrams, which is very much a large open data source.
I am however rather beginning to think that this wasn’t really a good time to run a much needed update on Mac Ports. It better be finished fairly soon.
I have been at two conferences this week. Number one was the CoSMoS workshop at the Unconventional Computation and Natural Computation conference. Where I presented a paper titled, “Going Around Again: Modelling Standing Ovations with a
Flexible Agent-based Simulation Framework”. This paper was about how I have refactored an existing simulation platform for a new but related purpose. The process that we go through to develop agent based simulations is as important as the simulations themselves. A simulation is as only as good as its worse assumption, and using the CoSMoS process can really help with identifying and documenting assumptions, and structuring the simulation in a systematic way.
Number two was at the European Conference on Complex Systems, in the Complexity in the Real World Stream. Here I presented a paper on, “Agent-based Modelling of the Emergence of the UK Banking Sector” on behave of myself and my collaborator Simon Mollan. I think a better title for this talk could perhaps have been, “A Longitudinal Study of the Population of UK Banks”. Simon collected an unique database that details the changes of a great many of the banks active in the UK. We then developed this data-set further have recently been modelling some of the population level behaviour that we have seen in the data. Slides for this talk will be made available.