John Lang, Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo
Information Flow ad Decision Making Over Social Networks
On December 17, 2010, a fruit vender named Mohamed Bouazizi self-immolated in the small Tunisian town of Sidi Bousid. In doing so, he set in motion a series of protests and revolutions that we now collectively refer to as the Arab Spring. It is widely believed that new communications technologies such as the Internet and social media played a critical role in the success of protests that ultimately led to the downfall of dictatorial regimes in both Tunisia and Egypt. This seminar discusses approaches to modeling these types of social processes which occur over complex social networks. Agent-based, effective degree, Nekovee-type, moment closure, and compartmental models are considered, among others. We then introduce a simple one-compartment model for the dynamics of an Arab-Spring-like revolution, which is able to qualitatively capture a wide range of scenarios observed in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as in Iran, China, and Somalia. This model is then applied as a framework from which we develop possible answers to four outstanding questions regarding the evolution of the Arab Spring. A more complex treatment of the Arab Spring phenomenon is proposed, followed by a discussion of possible directions for future research.