Formalization for the social sciences

lpols1114  2020-2021  Louvain-la-Neuve

Formalization for the social sciences
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
4 credits
30.0 h + 15.0 h
Main themes
As a matter of illustration, here are possible topics: - conflict and cooperation - voting - measurement of power - social choice - fair division

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 This course is an introduction to mathematical modelization in social sciences at large (economics, political science, sociology, law). It is not a course in mathematics and the prerequisite do not go beyond the basic college mathematics. Its aim is to help students to develop an analytical capacity through a systematic and rigorous use of simple concepts of game and decision theory.
LPOLS 1114 provides an introduction to different types of formalization of social phenomena, allowing the analysis of themes specific to the social sciences (economics, political science, sociology, etc.). It aims to give students an analytical ability based on a systematic approach by borrowing simple concepts from mathematics, game theory, and the fields of simulation in the social sciences.
At the end of this course, students will be able to 
  • to understand the value of formalization for the social sciences and to recognize the main tools used in this field, 
  • to build models of strategic situations and analyze them using cooperative and non-cooperative game theory,
  • to use computer simulation of social phenomena using a programming environment (NetLogo).
  • to read and use references in English independently.
Topics covered:
  1. Introduction: what is formalization and modeling in the social sciences?
  2. Mathematics for the social sciences: sets, relationships, matrices, functions, permutations and combinations.
  3. Introduction to the theory of non-cooperative games: dominant and dominated strategies, Nash equilibrium, sequential games.
  4. Introduction to cooperative game theory: the problem of stable matches, collective choices, equitable distribution, power indices. 
  5. Social science simulations: micro-simulations and multi-agent models.
  6. Introduction to social network analysis.
The course consists of a series of lectures completed by exercises.
Teaching methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

The course is structured around lectures and practical work. Participation in sessions of practical work is required.
Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

A written exam organized in the regular session, combining practical exercises and multiple-choice questions.
Other information
Prerequisite: None Rating: written examination. Support: lecture notes
E.Y. Gura and M. Maschler. Insights into Game Theory : An Alternative Mathematical Experience. Cambridge University Press, 2008.
C.A. Lave and J.G. March. An introduction to models in the social sciences. University Press of America, 1993.
Bonacich, P. and Lu, P., Introduction to Mathematical Sociology, 2012, Princeton University Press
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Minor in Human and Social Sciences

Bachelor in Sociology and Anthropology

Bachelor in Political Sciences: General

Bachelor in Human and Social Sciences