Student Profiles

Jacob Foster Jacob G. Foster

Postdoctoral Scholar
BS, Physics, Duke University
PhD, Physics, University of Calgary

Social Science 425
Curriculum Vita: CV

I am interested in the birth, life, and death of ideas. How are new ideas born? Why do some spread? What role do ideas play in organizing social structures? And how do social structures affect the genesis, diffusion, and ultimate extinction of ideas? Currently, I work with James Evans on computational approaches to the sociology of science. My research focuses on conceptualizing and measuring novelty and influence. By fitting rich models of discovery and impact to data extracted from articles and patents, I infer the strategies, preferences, and social processes that shape the production and persistence of new ideas and technologies. This effort is embedded in a larger project to understand -- and discover computationally -- the beliefs, biases, and heuristics that guide scientists in their exploration of the natural world. I hope to thereby shine quantitative light on classic questions in the sociology of science and innovation. My approach is strongly informed by research on complex systems and biological and cultural evolution.

Dissertation Title

On the Methodology of Complex Network Analysis

Research Interests

Social Studies of Knowledge, Social Theory, Methodology/Mathematical Sociology, Social Organization/Formal/Complex, Computational Social Sciences, Innovations, Complex Systems, Networks, Evolutionary Theory 

Selected Publications

Evans, J.A.., & Foster, J.G. 2011. Metaknowledge. Science 332, 721.

Foster, J.G., Foster, D.V., Grassberger, P., & Paczuski, M. 2010. Edge direction and the structure of networks. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107, 10815.

Foster, J.G., Grassberger, P., & Paczuski, M. 2009. Reinforced walks in two and three dimensions. New J. Phys. 11, 023009.

Foster, J.G., Foster, D.V., Grassberger, P., & Paczuski, M. 2007. Link and subgraph likelihoods in random undirected networks with fixed and partially fixed degree sequences. Phys. Rev. E 76, 046122