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Computational sociology

Computational Sociology is a recent branch of sociology that uses computation to analyze social phenomena. The idea is to take advantage of computer simulation in the construction of social theories. Several of the approaches used in contemporary social simulation were originally developed in fields such as physics and artificial intelligence. Although the subject matter of social sciences differs from that of the natural sciences and different issues are important in modeling human societies than in modeling aggregates of physical particles, these science and engineering techniques have proved to be very useful. On the other hand, some issues are specific to social science and the relevance of computer simulation to human societies therefore needs to be considered carefully.

An important notion in computational sociology is the understanding of social agent s, the interaction among the agents, and the effect of these interactions on the social aggregation. This is why computational sociology is often related to social complexity studies; the notions of complex systems and non-linear interconnection among macro and micro process, the concept of emergence, and so on, have become major vocabulary in the research. A practical and well-known example of the method is the construction of a computation model, an "artificial society," where we can analyze the structure of the social system.

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Last updated: 12-22-2004 06:10:46