Ninghua Wang

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki


I am Ninghua (pronounce: NING-HWA), or Nathan. I am a 2nd year Ph.D. student from the joint geography program of San Diego State University and University of California, Santa Barbara. Yes, I spend my Ph.D. in two gorgeous beach towns.


I am fascinated by geographic patterns. I enjoy reading maps and gaining insights from the patterns shown on map. I study urban structures, crime hot spots, human travel trajectories, and state boundaries.


As a geographer, I am also good at making fancy maps. I have a suite of mapping software. I was an engineer by training so I can do programming in many computer languages, Matlab and R. Also if you have any issue related to spatial analysis (means you need to work with spatial data), let me know. I may have some idea.


I want a deeper understanding of complex science, its history and current development. Also I would like to expend my knowledge on Information Theory. Hopefully I can have a draft paper by the end of my SFI summer school.


There are several projects I am working on, used to work on before but still want more, and plan to do in future.

I have an ABM on crime behavior, specifically about robbery. The simulation results show that robbers have clear tendency to rob at particular locations, known as crime hotspots. Based on that, I tried different policing strategies to crack down crimes. While the location-oriented policing is the most effective strategy, its outcome is mixed, depending on the initial condition, a phenomenon common in complex system. Currently this work is halfway to be published but I have some new hypotheses I would like to test when I have time.

I also want to know the 'fitness' of statistical methods in analyzing complex system. Particularly I want to examine survival analysis and the multilevel model. I use ABM to generate a complex human-environment interaction system, and apply the survival model and the multilevel model to that system to detect the key mechanisms I have programmed in the ABM. By changing the level of nonlinearity and emergence of ABM, I want to know if these statistical models still be effective.

Besides theoretical works, I also have a nice empirical longitudinal dataset about land cover and household demography in Nepal countryside. I want to learn how family events(marriage, birth, and migration) affect people's use of natural resources.

I just made a toy ABM a few weeks ago to study the boundaries of African countries. The boundaries of African countries, drew two centuries ago during the age of imperialism, was once considered arbitrary but remain quite stable till now. I am wondering some simple boundary negotiation principles may assure the stability here. However, I need a rigorous proof.

The last plan relates to information communication technology(ICT). Online forums are now very important for Chinese government to learn social opinions. A few times the government changed its policies because the unanimous opposition from major forums. However, some PR companies start to exploit this opportunity by hiring cheap labors to post in those forums. I am arguing the spatial-temporal patterns of a spontaneous opposition is different from a campaign by PR companies. First I need to extract the patterns of these two distinctive behaviors, and then use complex science model to simulate them.

Personal Interests:

Hiking, Jogging, Skiing, Basketball, Badminton, Photography, Salsa and Argentina Tango.