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CBS Professors and Students Showcase New Methods for Understanding Innovation at AAAS 2015

New computational methods are changing our understanding of how and why innovation occurs in science and society.

On 14 February, 2015, an international group of scholars in the history of science and technology showcased computational methods to address questions of innovation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Jose, CA.

The session, titled “Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on Innovation in Science and Society,” was organized by ASU president’s professor Manfred Laubichler as part of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute Center for Biosocial Complex Systems.

The panel included scholars from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Santa Fe Institute, the University of North Carolina, and Arizona State University.

The panel emphasized the significance of social, material, and information networks for the emergence of innovation in a variety of contexts.

Professor Luis M. Bettencourt of the Santa Fe Institute and professor Deborah Strumsky of the University of North Carolina described how cities function as innovation hubs by incubating complex networks of inventors.

Bettencourt and Strumsky use a combination of big data, including national patent databases and computer modeling, to study the formation and dynamics of those networks.

Director of the ASU Global Security Initiative, Nadya Bliss, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Jürgen Renn, and CBS PhD candidate Erick Peirson described how computational analysis of collaboration behavior among scientists can yield insights about the emergence of new scientific concepts and research fields.

Renn’s paper was read by Laubichler. Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Dagmar Schäfer was unable to attend due to travel delays.

The session was backed by the history and philosophy of science section of AAAS.

Peirson was able to participate in the panel thanks to a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation.

More information:

Erick Peirson
erick.peirson@asu.edu