Social Analysis and Modeling for Python

Tim Churches tchur at optushome.com.au
Wed Sep 29 23:39:47 CEST 2004


On Thu, 2004-09-30 at 01:37, Bishara Gabriel wrote:
> I encourage feedback from all parties and especially those which would 
> like to be directly involved (I may include you in the grant proposal 
> and budget).  Send me your comments!
> 
> ------->
> 
> Project Objective
> 
> We seek to introduce the advantages of object-oriented programming to
> the realm of social sciences.  We believe the fields thereof (economics,
> history, sociology, political science, etc.), have much to gain from
> OOP’s ability to represent social constructs.  Particularly, we have
> found Python to be well suited to the rapid formulation of social models
> due to its syntactic simplicity, outstanding support for object-oriented
> programming, and comprehensive libraries.  Unfortunately, most academics
> in the aforementioned fields are unaware of the capabilities, let alone
> applicability, of programmatic representation.  Those who do are
> typically put off by the inadequacy and complexity of more traditional
> languages such as C and C++.  We therefore propose to disseminate an
> understanding among these fields of the ability to develop social models
> and represent social constructs via the rapid modeling capabilities of
> the Python language.  We seek to demonstrate how Python presents to them
> limited costs in production time via its language features, and to show
> how social models can be mentally approached in such a way that there
> exists a one-to-one correlation between their theoretical model and the
> Python equivalent.
> 
> See the rest of the proposal at:
> http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~bgabriel/Social_Analysis_&_Modeling_in_Python.pdf

This project seems like it will be both useful and fun - for all
concerned. For what more could the PSF ask? Certainly a great way to
promote the visibility of Python. I can conceive of several uses in my
own domain of public health - particularly in health promotion, where
more tools to model the social effects of specific health promotion
campaigns and interventions are sorely needed; this project might also
be useful in developing more accessible tools to model health care
financing and expenditure (for inspiration, see the work of Harold
Waitzkin and colleagues).

Of course, modelling the past and present Chinese state will bring new
meaning to Gang-of-Four paradigms in object-oriented programming.
Indeed, one might speculate that if Python and this project had happened
two decades earlier, Francis Fukiyama may not have been able to
triumphantly proclaim "the end of [dialectic] history" (but I make no
defence of the across-the-board failings of the former Soviet Union).

However, I agree with Cameron Laird's point that some mention needs to
be made of similar, previous work with Simula. Metaphysician Mertz is
familiar with SimPy and I suspect that there are plans to use it in this
project - see
http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-simpy.html

Presumably the overall project code will be licensed under the GNU
General Public License (GPL) or similar, but might I suggest that some
of the example models are licensed under the "other" GPL which is
rumoured to exist. Modern Prince Mertz knows what I mean.

-- 

Tim C

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