Computational Social Science
Computational social science represents an emerging field of science “that investigates social phenomena through the medium of computing and related advanced information processing technologies” (CSSA). The formation of CSS responds to recent technological advancements, where interactions in the digital world generate and are generated by social structures in the real world in a novel way and, in doing so, provide social research with prolific new forms of data.
For example, the increasing integration of the World Wide Web in our daily lives already has created massive volumes of social data, i.e. data about humans' everyday behavior and social interactions in the real world. Such social data opens up exciting new opportunities as well as challenges for computer and social scientists to work together towards a new and deeper quantitative understanding of complex computational social systems. At the same time, the increasing availability of such social data has led to new types of and directions for research. On the one hand, Computational Social Science focuses on developing the means and instruments for processing and analysing large amounts of social data. This includes algorithms and novel, non-obtrusive methods for the social sciences based on state-of-the-art approaches from domains such as machine learning, data mining and network analysis. On the other, it utilizes hypotheses and theories from the Social Sciences to arrive at meaningful, empirically coupled models of social behavior which can be applied to and tested against large data sets taken from, for example, social media. Example include the quantitative analysis of political electoral processes and dynamics based on social media data as well as the quantitative analysis of other social processes in social media or log data.
The confluence of Social Sciences and Computer Science seems natural in a situation where both sides are in need: computer scientists need to make sense of large amounts of social data and social scientists require new, scalable tools that go beyond their traditional ways of collecting, structuring, and evaluating social data.