Subatomic particle physics has CERN. Astronomy has the Hubble telescope. Social science has the Internet, smartphones, email, social media, satellites, and a myriad of other ways to follow human behavior. The gods of the information age have produced a whole panoply of technologies for social research along the journey to other destinations.
Generally, social scientists have been poorly equipped to deal with the 21st-century deluge of large-scale complex data. Computer scientists, well equipped to handle the data, are often ignorant of social theory and of foundational research methods in the social sciences. What is needed is an articulation of core principles of designing research that are accessible to multiple disciplines. —David Lazer
About Our Research
The Computational Social Science Group was founded in 2017 by Aldu Cornelissen and Richard Barnett in order to bring their collective background in social and computational science to establish a platform to combine the two broad fields. The group looks to use technology to aid and improve understanding of and investigation into social phenomena. Current research in the group makes extensive use of publicly available digital trace data to investigate a number of social problems.
Events surrounding Brexit and the 2016 United States Presidential election  have shown that social manipulation of online platforms is possible and probable. The group’s current projects seek to understand the effects of online political interference in a South African context. This includes detecting bots, analysis of misinformation campaigns and building bots which help to understand social phenomena as they unfold on social media. In future the group is also interested in technological solutions to the understanding of crowd and organisational dynamics.
Aldu is the social scientist, who defends R with all his might. He did his undergraduate in Value and Policy Studies, completed his M(Phil) in Decision making and Knowledge Dynamics, and is now completing his PhD in social network analysis. He dreams up projects for computer scientists and cracks the whip.
Richard is the group’s resident Computer Scientist and includes big data analytics and machine learning in his interests. His current research is focused on deep learning to identify bots on Twitter.
View his Google Scholar profile.
Join the Group…
The CSSG is, by its nature, transdisciplinary and therefore requires collaboration from a wide range of individuals. The group welcomes participation from other researchers and aspiring computational social scientists. Prospective postgraduate students should follow the procedure outlined for the MA (Socio-Informatics) and PhD, but should feel free to also contact us directly before doing so.