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soc 376 - syllabus - spring 2008

soc 376 - syllabus - spring 2008 - updated University of...

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updated 1/07/08 University of Wisconsin, Department of Sociology Sociology 376: Mathematical Models of Social Systems Spring 2008 Prof. James Montgomery e-mail: [email protected] website: www.ssc.wisc.edu/~jmontgom 2436 Social Science Office hours: Friday 9:30-11:30 AM or by appointment Course Objectives. This course provides an introduction to mathematical models of social process , focusing especially on Markov chains and dynamical systems models. Students will learn how to analyze these types of models in order to determine their short-run dynamics and long-run equilibria. Students will make extensive use of mathematical software (Matlab) to compute numerical examples and perform simple simulation analyses. Examples will address a wide range of sociological topics including social mobility, demography, network formation, social influence, cultural evolution, social movements, and residential segregation. This course complements Soc 375 (Introduction to Mathematical Sociology) which explores mathematical models of social structure , focusing on social network analysis and related methods. Prerequisites . To enroll, students should have completed either Soc 375 or a course on matrix algebra (Math 340 or equivalent), or else obtain permission of the instructor. [Soc 375 provides a brief review of matrix algebra that is sufficient for the present course. Students who already know matrix algebra do not need to know social network analysis (or any other topics covered in Soc 375) to enroll in the present course.] Some knowledge of calculus would be helpful, but the course is intended to be accessible to students without calculus. [While more advanced courses on dynamical systems would require calculus, we will make use of graphical or computational methods whenever possible.] Students who have taken math courses covering Markov chains and dynamical systems will already know the relevant mathematics, and students with some background in computer programming may have an advantage. For students who already know matrix algebra, there is no sociology prerequisite, so the course is well-suited for students with other (quantitative) majors. Evaluation . Grades will be based on two exams (each worth 1/3 of the grade) and weekly problem sets (worth the final 1/3). The midterm exam will be held during class on Thursday, March 13 ; the final exam will be held during exam week on Tuesday, May 13, 2:45-4:45 .
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