Johan Elkink

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

Johan (Jos) Elkink is a PhD student in political science at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He works on the diffusion and clustering of democracy and is especially interested in the application and validation of agent-based modeling in the social sciences and social science research methods in general.

Personal website

In answer to the questions sent to us:

1. What topics do you have some expertise in and would you be willing to help others learn them?

Since my training has been mostly in more conventional social science research and quantitative methods, my prime expertise would be statistical analysis, while my long time hobby has generated substantial expertise in computer programming - in both areas more specifically trained participants will probably be present, though :).

2. What do you want to learn?

My prime interest in political science is in research methods and I am most interested in learning the many different ways one can approach a research problem in a complex, dynamic system. I am more interested in the approach and methods than in the substantive elements of the course. I also have a specific interest in the empirical validity of models based on dynamic systems, but this will probably not be a key focus during the summer school itself.

3. Do you have any projects that would benefit from interdisciplinary approach?

My main project thus far within complex systems is an agent-based simulation of individual actors in processes of democratic diffusion. Although there are clear interdisciplinary influences to the model, including cascades and cellular automata, these influences are probably still rather limited, and the research is primarily still a social science project. With my focus in my future career on methodology, however, I am still very interested in more interdisciplinary insights.

4. Do you have any ideas for what sort of project you would like to attack this summer?

To be really honest: no, not really. I don't have any specific project I would like to focus on and had intended to go with an open mind to the summer school and see what appeals the most. I do have particular interests in social sciences and in artificial intelligence, however.

5. What's your favorite "big problem"?

When is the model we have just an interesting model, and when can we with relative certainty say that a model actually describes the real world. In other words: my prime 'big problem' concerns questions concerning the empirical validity of models.

6. If you were given the opportunity to see where we were in one hundred years with respect to progress on one problem/subject, what would it be?

Artificial intelligence, especially the extent to which computers can analyse textual information 'intelligently'.