Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy


This great book edited by Jeffrey Johnson, Paul Ormerod, Bridget Rosewell, Andrzej Nowak, and Yi-Cheng Zhang brings together many contributions from an EU project which lead to several workshops and conferences about a new form of social science – out of equilibrium, far from equilibrium, in disequilibrium as the world always is. The book is open access and you can download it here.

Here is an explanation of what is contained within. Between 2011 and 2014 the European Non-Equilibrium Social Science Project (NESS) investigated the place of equilibrium in the social sciences and policy. Orthodox economics is based on an equilibrium view of how the economy functions and does not offer a complete description of how the world operates. However, mainstream economics is not an empty box. Its fundamental insight, that people respond to incentives, may be the only universal law of behaviour in the social sciences. Only economics has used equilibrium as a primary driver of system behaviour, but economics has become much more empirical at the microlevel over the past two decades. This is due to two factors: advances in statistical theory enabling better estimates of policy consequences at the microlevel, and the rise of behavioural economics which looks at how people, firms and governments really do behave in practice. In this context, this chapter briefly reviews the contributions of this book across the social sciences and ends with a discussion of the research themes that act as a roadmap for further research. These include: realistic models of agent behaviour; multilevel systems; policy informatics; narratives and decision making under uncertainty; and validation of agent-based complex systems models.

Here is my own chapter for your interest which is entitled Cities in Disequilibrium


City Analytics


City Analytics: An invited special collection of articles for Royal Society Open Science entitled ‘City Analytics’ compiled and edited by Desmond J. Higham, Michael Batty, Luís M. A. Bettencourt, Danica Vukadinovic Greetham and Peter Grindrod. Click here or on the image above for the papers.

The growing human urban population presents unique opportunities and challenges for a range of stakeholders. As is presented in this special collection, using a range of mathematical, computational and statistical tools, it is possible to extract and analyse data on urban environments from myriad sources of information.

In the City Analytics special collection, interdisciplinary work exploring, for instance, social media usage patterns, transport networks and urban resilience to natural disasters, such as flooding, provide researchers and policymakers with detailed insights. Click here for the editorial and the papers and for the contents which are open access.

Space Syntax and Spatial Interaction


Written a paper on how we can compare and even integrate space syntax with spatial interaction. You can get it here by clicking on this link or on the image above. This is based on the notion that we need to develop a way of disentangling the underlying planar graph of the street network into components that when put together either lead to operations on the planar graph itself as in spatial interaction or on the dual of this graph between the streets which is the graph used in space syntax. The link is obvious when developed in this way but the ways of integration are somewhat convoluted. We develop these ideas for some simple hypothetical graphs and make comparisons of the various accessibilities associated with these graphs which appear both in space syntax and spatial interaction. We then develop a semi-real application using data on the nearest neighbour generic graph for Greater London and this reveals the problems of specifying this graph in the first place. Our comparisons with real data are disappointing for many obvious reasons but what I think this paper does is throw light on space syntax and on ideas about accessibility, suggesting that we need a sustained effort to develop the right sorts of underlying graphs from which space syntax can be developed. We are only at the beginning of the process and in space syntax, we have not really explored the properties of the underlying graphs in any depth hitherto. This establishes directions for further research. Click here for the paper.