Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Swede White

Science and Technology

Class of 2016


Swede is a doctoral student in sociology at Louisiana State University. His research interests primarily center around the social determinants of health and illness, with an emphasis on causal analysis. Most recently, he has been examining the effectiveness of infectious disease prevention programs in varying cultural contexts with particular attention to identity, stigma and social networks. Swede is currently designing a Bayesian belief network to measure these phenomena, and it is his hope this causal network model can be used in other applications to improve preventative health programs and outcomes. When not conducting research, Swede enjoys cooking new cuisines he has not tried before, traveling to parts unknown and enjoying the natural beauty of south Louisiana.

Project: Reddit: The Front Page of Sociology

Theoretical tensions between macro and micro levels of analysis present challenges in analyzing the social world. Social networks have been used to better visualize and understand human interaction since the early twentieth century. With the advent of online social communities, massive amounts of data/information are both generated and consumed across a hyper-connected world unprecedented in human history. Online social networks present an opportunity to examine how micro interactions build the macro world. This project uses data from the online community Reddit to visualize networked structures of language and how those structures facilitate communal spaces. Further, the Reddit community is unique in that users create subreddit communities based on topics of interest ranging from politics to cat photos. By analyzing textual language structure in a slice of this data, this project reveals networked clusters through natural language processing and sentiment analysis using novel technology. Through this analysis and suggestions for future research, a generative model of social interaction is possible and can reveal similarities in human interaction across varying social contexts in the online community and, perhaps, the social world writ large.

Figure 1: Text analysis of Elon Musk’s Ask Me Anything on Reddit using Mathematica’s CommunityGraphPlot

Favorite 3-Color 2D Totalistic Cellular Automaton

Rule 144305877

I find this particular cellular automaton interesting because it has irregular borders and irregular growth. Many of the CAs I examined had regular borders that did not change over time steps. However, code 144305877 appears to exhibit irregularity. This was an unexpected finding in my search for an interesting and unique 2D, 3-color CA.