Vincent Traag

Post-doc
e-Humanities Group and Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Vincent Traag is currently completing his PhD at the Department of Applied Mathematics at the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium, after which he will join the e-Humanities Group and the KITLV. In general, he is interested in social networks, social dynamics and conflict, with a desire to combine mathematical modeling and social sciences.

Originally Traag began studying computer science, but after two years he decided to switch to sociology. However, he found the more formal analysis lacking in sociology and he took up an additional year of mathematics. After graduating cum laude in sociology at the University of Amsterdam he joined the research group on “Large Graphs and Networks” at the Department of Applied Mathematics at the Université catholique de Louvain. In his thesis he addresses two topics in network science. The first topic focuses on finding communities—groups of densely connected nodes—in networks. Some methods for finding communities suffer from a drawback: they cannot detect small communities in large graph. This problem, known as the resolution-limit, was analyzed in depth by him, and he showed that only few methods do not suffer from the problem. Secondly, he investigated negative links in networks—links that represent conflict or hatred. On the one hand, the problem is similar to community detection: the focus is on finding groups with positive links within groups, but negative links in between groups. On the other hand, he analyzed how such a structure of negative and positive links might come about through social dynamics.

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