© Copyright JASSS

JASSS logo ------

Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling and Prediction: 4th International Conference, SBP 2011, College Park, MD, USA, March 29-31, 2011. ... Applications, Incl. Internet/Web, and HCI)

Salerno, John, Yang, Shanchieh Jay, Nau, Dana and Chai, Sun-Ki (eds.)
Springer-Verlag: Berlin, 2011
ISBN 9783642196553 (pb)

Order this book

Reviewed by Ugo Merlone
University of Torino

Cover of book This book has the typical pros and cons of any post-proceedings volume. It consists of 51 contributions, including four keynotes and 46 short papers, each one from eight to nine pages, all unified by the common thread given by the theme of the conference. Unfortunately, only the abstracts of the four keynote speakers have been included. Given that the conference website ( http://www.umiacs.umd.edu/conferences/sbp2011/index.html) reports the very same contents of the keynote speakers' contributions, the advantage of this book is little. Furthermore, the bios of the keynote speakers can be found only on the website, where we can also find the (short) abstract of a panel discussing and comparing computational and statistical modelling for complex problems in behavioural, social sciences, and public health research.

It is interesting to note that most of the contributions come from the US, while the rest of the world is less covered. Indeed, against 44 authors from the US, there are only one author each from countries such as France, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, and Japan, and three from Israel. One may wonder whether this distribution is the result of the growing number of conferences about these topics, the effect of the recent drastic cut of research funds, which made travelling worldwide less affordable for most of us or the consequence of a balkanization of this field.

On the other hand, the variety of the topics covered by this book testifies to the vitality of social computing. The wide spectrum of applications spans from illicit nuclear trafficking to child maltreatment. Coherently with the idea of cognitive social simulation (Sun 2006), there are many papers that show the potentiality of social computing and behavioural modelling in extending the field of computational and mathematical psychology towards topics that are relevant to social psychology. An example is the application of multi-agent systems to look at cognitive aspects. Furthermore, certain classical themes of mathematical psychology, such as decision-making and judgment, are examined.

Apart from certain themes, which are at the intersection of cognitive modelling and social simulation, some contributions revolve around topics that are familiar to social simulation researchers, such as cooperation, social conflict, trust, and culture dynamics. If one lists the number and recurrence of the chapter keywords, together with a long list of keywords that appear only one time, such as bounded rationality, Bayesian inference, complex contagion, and qualitative reasoning, just to name a few, there are a couple of recurrent keywords, such as "social networks", "trust" and "agent-based model/simulation", which are common to the social simulation community.

To conclude, despite the typical problems of a post-proceedings book, a wide audience may find it interesting. Social scientists can find a reliable measure of the evolution of the 'computing' field. Computer scientists can appreciate the growth of computational applications and eventually understand which are the tools more used in the field. Finally, mathematical psychologists can discover new approaches to social interaction and appreciate the stage of development of this field.

* References

SUN, R (2008) 'Cognitive Social Simulation'. In The Cambridge Handbook of Computational Psychology (R. Sun Eds) Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, pp. 530-548


ButtonReturn to Contents of this issue