Computational Social Science

The Working Group on Computational Social Science at Columbia University, in partnership with the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) and the Data Science Institute (DSI) explores profound and urgent questions about how the information revolution will transform society as a whole.

The incipient field of computational social science continues to generate an array of interdisciplinary projects, often pursued in partnership with computer scientists, statisticians, and mathematicians. Some involve leveraging tools of prediction and machine learning to assist in tackling policy problems. Others entail applying recent advances in speech and image recognition to classic and novel problems in the social sciences. These projects often require methodological innovation or scaling proven techniques to new levels, as well as designing new metrics and interfaces to make research findings intelligible to scholars who lack coding skills but have deep domain expertise.

Computational social sciences raises inescapable questions about the politics and ethics of data science research, particularly when it focuses on sociopolitical problems with applications in government and the private sector. Just as with the field of genomics, to which computational social sciences has been compared, it may well take a generation before we see researchers who combine high-level competence in data science with equivalent expertise in anthropology, sociology, and other social sciences.

As of the present, we have yet to see an “Asilomar moment,” in which researchers pause to consider both the historical record and future risks before plunging ahead. Instead, there are vast experiments limited only by what researchers believe an informed public would consider “creepy.” Columbia seeks to be a convener for a more sophisticated conversation, grounded in an understanding of both the research itself and how it relates to law, philosophy, and ethics.


CO-CHAIR: Augustin Chaintreau, Columbia Engineering | Computer Science
CO-CHAIR: Courtney Cogburn, School of Social Work
CO-CHAIR: Bruce Kogut, Graduate School of Business and Arts and Sciences | Sociology

Manan Ahmed, Arts and Sciences | History
Elias Bareinboim, Columbia Engineering | Computer Science
David Blei, Arts and Sciences | Statistics and Columbia Engineering | Computer Science
Paulo Blikstein, Teachers College
Merlin Chowkwanyun, Mailman School of Public Health | Sociomedical Sciences
Matthew Connelly, Arts and Sciences | History and Institute of Social and Economic Research and Policy
Bo Cowgill , Graduate School of Business
Thomas DiPrete, Arts and Sciences | Sociology and Institute of Social and Economic Research and Policy
Greg Eirich, Arts and Sciences | Sociology
Yuri Faenza, Columbia Engineering | Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Kellen Funk, Columbia Law School
Andy Gelman, Arts and Sciences | Statistics and Political Science
Vineet Goyal Columbia Engineering | Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Jorge Guzman, Graduate School of Business
Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, School of International and Public Affairs
Shigeo Hirano, Arts and Sciences | Political Science
Julia Hirschberg, Columbia Engineering | Computer Science
Matthew Jones, Arts and Sciences | History
Colin Wayne Leach, Barnard College | Psychology
Anton Lines, Graduate School of Business
Yao Lu, Arts and Sciences | Sociology
Michael Mauskapf, Graduate School of Business
Kathy McKeown, Columbia Engineering | Computer Science
Tamar Mitts, School of International and Public Affairs
Suresh Naidu, School of International and Public Affairs and Arts and Sciences | Economics
Oded Netzer, Graduate School of Business
Serena Ng, Arts and Sciences | Economics
Adam Poliak, Barnard College | Computer Science
Kenneth Prewitt, School of International and Public Affairs
David Rosner, Mailman School of Public Health | Sociomedical Sciences and Arts and Sciences | History
Tim Roughgarden, Columbia Engineering | Computer Science
Pamela Smith, Arts and Sciences | History
Jack Snyder, Arts and Sciences | Political Science
David Stark, Arts and Sciences | Sociology
Eric Talley, School of Law
Dennis Tenen, Arts and Sciences | English and Comparative Literature
Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, Arts and Sciences | Sociology
Olivier Toubia, Graduate School of Business
Greg Wawro, Arts and Sciences | Political Science
Joshua Whitford, Arts and Sciences | Sociology
Chris Wiggins, Columbia Engineering | Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and Vagelos School of Physicians and Surgeons | Systems Biology
Ming Yuan, Data Science Institute and Arts and Sciences | Statistics
Tian Zheng, Arts and Sciences | Statistics

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