Erika Fille Legara

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About Erika

Erika Fille Legara

Hi! I'm Erika Fille Legara. I am a 2nd year PhD student in Physics at the National Institute of Physics, University of the Philippines, Diliman. I am a Filipina.

I am actively involved with the complex systems group of the IPL under the close supervision of my advisor, Dr. Christopher P. Monterola and Professor Caesar A. Saloma, Ph.D.. I have done some projects in the field of computational social science that involve the use of both complex networks and statistical tools.

In general, I like working with people who are critical and have different perspectives than mine and yet not too arrogant to settle between ideas. I am always excited to learn new stuff especially from academic peers. And I definitely like working with creative and constructive individuals who definitely know how to have fun.

To know more about me, please feel free to check my homepage.

Please don't hesitate to contact me at etlegara at gmail dot com.

Professor Dan's questions

What are your main interests? Possible projects in mind?

In very broad terms, I am interested in complex networks and computational social science. As a student from a third-world country, I am extremely engrossed with research projects that have a direct impact to society. I hope to do research projects that deal with the application of mathematical, computational, and/or statistical methods in the study of social issues.

For example, the perceived population problem that we have. Based on the July 1, 2009 estimate by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Philippines is the 12th most populated country in the world; and, according to the Philippine National Statistics Office, the population growth rate between 2000 to 2007 was 2.04% but has decreased to an estimated 1.95% for the 2005 to 2010 period. The government hopes to address the problem however the solutions are not clear-cut. A house bill was proposed titled the Reproductive and Population Development Act of 2008 to hopefully address the population issue through the promotion of "responsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards." Also, it proposes to guarantee "universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children,among other underprivileged sectors." This has raised a lot of contentious political debates among different groups in the society including the Catholic Church.

I am curious to know if we could model the population dynamics in an archipelago containing 7,107 islands given, for example, that the bill would be enacted. I know that there are many variables that come into play here (that's why I find it really interesting) including the topology of the social network, as the process involves information diffusion. Essentially, I am curious to know if we could model the effects of information diffusion (including contraceptive use) within the society to the population growth? And if there's any, would it be significant? Also, another interesting question involves the long-term effects of curbing population growth.

Another topic I'm interested in is language dynamics. The Philippines has around 175 individual languages, four of which already have no more known speakers. Moreover, the constitution recognizes eight (8) major languages and twelve (12) regional languages. (The statistics here are taken from Wikipedia on the Philippines.) If I could get data on the different language distributions (per year or per decade) within the archipelago, it might give us new insights on language evolution. It would also be interesting to model or predict which languages would eventually thrive and die in time. Also, I'd like to know what would happen to the languages at certain regional boundaries after a few decades or a few centuries? And finally, taking a hint from Professor Dan's idea (under the Projects tab), we may also look at how certain words in the Filipino dictionary evolve through time.

I hope I am making sense here. :)

What sort of expertise can you bring to the group?

  • my experience in doing interdisciplinary research, collaborating with non-science experts
  • agent-based modeling using both C++ (kinda rusty) and Python; i am also familiar with the networkx module in Python
  • statistical analysis of data
  • a basic knowledge of neural networks

What do you hope to get out of the CSSS?

I am always looking for opportunities to refine my skills, hoping to become ever more proficient in the foundational ideas and tools used in complex systems research. I also hope to improve my understanding of the fundamentals to extend my knowledge of current trends in complex systems research.

Finally, I look forward to taking part in an interdisciplinary project with other CSSS 2010 participants and find new friends and future collaborators.