Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, February 11 - 3:00 p.m.

What Leads to Innovation? An Analysis of Collaborative Problem-Solving

Randy M. Casstevens
CSS PhD Candidate
George Mason University

Collaboration within large groups of individuals is difficult to analyze due to the large number of interactions involved. This presentation will explore the problem-solving process of software developers participating in programming contests with three types of analysis. First, regression was used to investigate the effect of two problem characteristics, size and modularity, on the innovation process. With a better understanding of how the characteristics of the problem being solved influences the rate of innovation, development obstacles may be avoided. Second, the distributions of developers per project and projects per developer were calculated to establish if they have heavy tailed distributions like seen in the open source community. This will explore parallels with the open source community and examine whether heavy tailed distributions can form over a relatively short time period, approximately one week. Finally, the programming contests were examined to look for evidence of creative destruction. In creative destruction, the introduction of a new innovation causes other products to no longer be used and was credited by Schumpeter as the “fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion” (Schumpeter, 1942, pg. 83).