Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, September 23 - 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Third Floor, Research Hall

Title: Complexity and Scale in Networks -- From Neurons to Nations

Maksim Tsvetovat, Asst. Professor
Department of Computational Social Science
George Mason University

Abstract: In human history, every culture has produced a set of rules governing social behavior, thus dictating a macro-level social network structure. While these rules do differ from culture to culture, they produce remarkably similar macro-level social networks, both on family- and small-group level, but also on societal level. Examples of
low-level rules can be found in work of Granovetter(1983), diffusion models(Friedkin 1998, Carley 1999, etc), Burt (1992), etc., as well as social-psychological literature such as Simmel(1905) and Heider(1979).

We hypothesize that a basic, low-level set of rules of social behavior may be biologically dictated via the the physiological properties of the human brain. This is based on the findings that most aspects of human (and animal) behavior appear to be at least in part directly mediated by select processes of neurotransmission, including genetically defined individual expression of neurotransmitters and
neuropeptides within distinct brain regions (Schultz 2007). Further, Dunbar(2003) hints at these mechanisms by correlating size of social groups with size of prefrontal cortex in primates.

We call this set of rules a Social Operating System of homo sapiens. In our work, we go down to the hardware to explain social reward mechanisms behind triadic structures, information diffusion, and ultimately social network structure. We are building a first-of-a-kind computational model of this operating system, and will demonstrate
preliminary results