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Transience Divine

March 2nd, 2011

March 2nd, 2011
06:06 pm


My Research
I don't think I've written about my research projects, and since they always seem to be multiplying, I wanted to present them frozen here in time:

Open Model for Climate Behaviors: I applied for an EPA fellowship based on this. The idea is to construct a dynamic model of sufficient complexity that it's possible to identify tipping points in the forces that affect American society's climate behaviors. In other words, to build a system to help find small policy changes, which will grow to really change how people act. (Project Proposal)

Glaciers and Flooding in Himalayan River Basins: The Himalayan glaciers are melting, and their rivers are flooding-- might these be related? No one seems to have checked. But I have a bunch of remote sensing analysis and good modeling that might be close to an answer. (Working Paper)

System Regression Estimators: My colleagues spend all their time running regressions, agonizing to find "exogenous" variables-- variables which affect things but aren't themselves affected. I don't think such things exist, and I have some math that might let us give up the battle and estimate the relationships in whole systems, where everything affects everything else.

Self-Organized Criticality in Ecology: Self-organization is everywhere in human and natural systems, yet we're only beginning to understand its implications. In particular, I think we're very close to being able to describe ecological systems in the terms of self-organization, and I intend to give it a try.

Beyond that is the long tail of projects. My Alternative Economics group last semester was enlightening, and remains a big interest for me. I thought my paper on the connection between the Creaturely Life and access to reality was pretty successful. A couple weeks ago, I identified the size of hidden "poverty-or-wealth" sectors missing from standard (two-sector) economic models. While not research, I recently open-sourced a bunch of artificial intelligence code for natural language processing, built Flame a Droid app for Valentine's day, and taught a class on unix and shell scripting. Hopefully this summer I'll have a chance to build some of three online projects I think would be powerful: a site that acts as a personal adviser for counterbalancing the unintended consequences of your purchases, a site to help volunteers self-organize on ambiguous projects, and a site to hold politicians accountable for their campaign promises.

There's a lot more I could say about all of these, but that's a start.

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