Projects in Previous Years

1st Semester 2012/13: Social Dynamics of Information and its Distortions

Alexandru Baltag
If you are interested in this project, please contact Alexandru by email.
The topic of this project is social beliefs and their informational dynamics, with a particular focus on their truth-tracking potential. The plan is, first, to look at some of the known studies and examples in Social Epistemology, and more concretely the known truth-tracking successes ("wisdom of the crowds") and failures (informational cascades, pluralistic ignorance, group polarization) of standard belief-aggregation mechanisms. Second, we will look at the attempts in the literature to provide explanations for these phenomena (mainly based on the Bayesian theory of belief update). Third, (time-permitting) we plan to investigate possible formal-logical treatments of these phenomena, using ideas and techniques from (probabilistilic) Dynamic Epistemic Logic and Formal Learning Theory.
Familiarity with some very basic notions of probability calculus and of modal logic (especially epistemic logic or dynamic logic) is recommended.
Each student will present material from one or more relevant works in the literature. Based on this, we plan to have group discussions on these issues. At the end of the project, the students are required to submit a written report of their readings and/or results.