At George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia the Center for Social Complexity undertakes advanced research in the exploration and analysis of human social phenomena. Computational modelling and related techniques are applied to the analysis of these complex phenomena. Founded in 2002, the Center for Social Complexity continuously develop new proposals for research and forms a significant part of the international Computational Social Science community. The centre describes computation social science as “the interdisciplinary science of complex social systems and their investigation through computational modelling and related techniques.” Furthermore, they state that “the field is at the intersection of social science and computer science and spans anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, and social psychology – as well as allied disciplines such as geography, history, organization theory, regional science, communication, and linguistics”. The centre applies the latest developments in psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience to formulate an understanding of social phenomena. In the Computational Social Science Program the following disciplines and fields are taught: agent-based simulation modelling, social network analysis, mathematical analysis related to complexity theory and geospatial modelling through GIS (Geographic Information Systems).
Dr Andrew Crooks is an associate professor in the above mentioned program and undertook his PhD degree at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London. His PhD thesis was entitled ‘Experimenting with Cities: Utilizing Agent-Based Models and GIS to Explore Urban Dynamics’. Dr Crooks has ever since undertaken extensive work in the fields of agent-based modelling and GIS and is also the author of the blog entitled GIS and Agent-Based Modelling (http://www.gisagents.org/), which explores urban and socio-economic environments through the application of GIS, spatial analysis and agent-based modelling methodologies. One of these agent-based modelling suites was developed by George Mason University and known as MASON (Multi-Agent Simulator of Neighbourhoods/Networks).
Further discussion will later be provided on MASON, as part of a new section of the methodologies for understanding and studying complex systems.
Selected Publications in Further Reading