High-throughput social science; complex networks; applications of complex systems to the social sciences and humanities; evolutionary dynamics; game theory; narratives and memes; algebraic structures in complex systems; transdisciplinarity.
Sociology has been profoundly influenced by prevailing scientific trends, from physiology and evolution to cybernetics and Bourbakiste abstract algebra. But attempts to apply "chaos" or "complex systems" to sociology have had minimal impact, either failing to engage with the vibrant theoretical tradition in sociology or borrowing only lightly from the rich vocabulary and technical repertoire of complexity science. To the attentive physicist, the sociological tradition speaks a rich language evocative of important contemporary topics, e.g. the use of networks in the work of Norbert Elias or his insistence on a dynamical and recursive model of psycho- and socio-genesis. We are pursuing a long-term transdisciplinary project to develop sociological theory treating society as a complex system while simultaneously allowing it to evolve through interaction with the psychological, normative, and narrative structures of the individuals composing it.
More about me
I am committed to the cultivation and support of interdisciplinary dialogue and transdisciplinary research at the University of Calgary and beyond. I have found that patient, deep, and respectful conversation among and across many disciplinary perspectives can be extraordinarily stimulating and productive, both in reframing and enriching questions within my current work and in provoking new research directions. How to create environments conducive to such dialogue is a particular interest -- let's say the ethics, rhetoric and pedagogy of inter- and transdisciplinary work. I am also involved in several transdisciplinary endeavors, including collaborations with Richard Hawkins' Innovation Lab, Mike Surette's microbiology lab, and Professor Art Frank of the Department of Sociology.
- Analysis of complex networks. Role of edge direction in determining structural and dynamic properties of networks. Connection between assortativity, clustering, and community structure. Please see my publications for more details.
Collaborators: Peter Grassberger, Maya Paczuski, and my brother, David Foster.
- Sociological theory from a complex systems perspective. Reimagining social theory in the 21st century. Functionalist approach to social networks. Figurational sociology. Narratives and social theory.
Collaborator: Art Frank.
- High-throughput social science, with a special focus on comparative economics in Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Markets as information processing systems. Production networks, correlation networks.
Collaborators: Richard Hawkins, Maya Paczuski, and David Foster.
- Adaptive radiation in bacteria (e.g. Pseudomonas fluorescens). Role of spatial heterogeneity in driving adaptive radiation and niche formation. Niche construction.
Collaborators: Carla Davidson, Maya Paczuski, Amer Shreim, and Mike Surette.
You can find many of my papers on my arXiv author page.
- Foster, J.G., Foster, D.V., Grassberger, P., & Paczuski, M. Link and subgraph likelihoods in random undirected networks with fixed and partially fixed degree sequences. Phys. Rev. E 76, 046122 (2007).
- Foster, J.G., Grassberger, P., & Paczuski, M. Reinforced walks in two and three dimensions. New J. Phys. 11, 023009 (2009).
- Foster, D.V., Foster, J.G., Huang, S, & Kauffman, S.A. A model of sequential branching in hierarchical cell fate determination. J. Theor. Biol.260, 589-97 (2009).
- Foster, J.G., & Slayton, M. Deception, tells, and the evolution of combinatorial communication. (abstract accepted to Evolang 8)
- Foster, J.G., Foster, D.V., Grassberger, P., & Paczuski, M. Edge direction and the structure of networks. (submitted)
- Foster, D.V., Foster, J.G., Paczuski, M., & Grassberger, P. Clustering phase transitions and hysteresis: Pitfalls in constructing network ensembles. (submitted)
- Foster, J.G., Shreim, A., Davidson, C., Surette, M., & Paczuski, M. Modeling adaptive radiation in Psuedomonads. (in prep.)
The Meme Factor
Innovation Lab Seminar, University of Calgary, April 2009
Complex Equality & Complex Systems
Invited Class, University of Alberta, March 2009
What is the future of economics?
Complexity Science Group Internal Seminar, March 2009
On Unification in the Behavioral Sciences,
Innovation Lab Seminar, University of Calgary, September 2008
Dynamic Landscapes: A Model of Context and Contingency in Evolution
Santa Fe Institute Complex Systems Summer School, June 2008
Torture, Terror, and the Undead
Graduate Sociology Conference, University of Calgary, March 2008
Science B, Room 504
Department of Physics and Astronomy,
SB 605, University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
PhD Candidate, Physics, August 2006-present
University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Thesis Title: "Network Analysis and Virtual Worlds: Steps to a High-throughput Social Science"
Supervisors: Professor Maya Paczuski and Professor Peter Grassberger
Expected Completion: June 2010
Probationary Research Student/DPhil Candidate, Mathematics, 2003-2006
Supported by the Rhodes Trust
Balliol College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Thesis Title: "Before the Beginning: Conformal Invariance and the Eternal Universe"
Supervisor: Professor Sir Roger Penrose
B.S. with Distinction, magna cum laude, physics, 1999-2003
Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Thesis: "Physics with Two Time Dimensions"
Supervisor: Professor Berndt Mueller
In my free time, I write book reviews for the Oxonian Review of Books:
Einstein's Miraculous Year (Einstein's 1905 papers), edited by John Stachel
World As Laboratory, by Rebecca Lemov
An Inconvenient Truth and the book of the same title, by Al Gore
In the Shadow of the Bomb, by S.S. Schweber