Ngrams – Computational Analysis of Google Ngrams Data

I recently did an invited talk for the student linguistics group at York St John University in York. The paper was broadly on the analysis of Ngrams data and was therefore a something of a summary of about 5 papers that I have been involved with over a number of years. It was nice to do a sort of overview of a fairly long project, and I was able to give the students a sense of how a program of research evolves as you get further into the empirical evidence and have to construct and test theories about what it is that you think is going on.

The work is an analysis of Google Ngrams data, where we attempt to explain the observed changes in word frequencies. Including the links between events and the words that we use in our language. We also investigated the explanatory power of the neutral model, and how well it fits changing patterns of word frequencies. I have linked the slides below so you can see what was presented, and the references are below that show the evolution of the work. I think I will do a podcast of this work in the future as I think its an interesting story.

Bursting a Bubble: Abstract Banking Demographics to Understand Tipping Points?

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?

British Science Festival – How Stuff Spreads

In September 2013 at the British Science Festival we did some experiments with students from local schools. The idea was to get them thinking about how information and idea spread through populations of people. This could be anything from fashions to rumours and gossip. The experiments had a visual element as the student could see on a projected screen how the network was developing through time. We also mixed things up a bit to make them think about how information might spread if there was an incentive to being one of the majority. It was good fun and I think the students got something out of it. The full article for the Conversation can be read here.