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Forum Suggestion!

  1. Feb 6, 2005 #1
    I have been on this forum for a little while(more recently then when I signed up) and I have a suggestion for a couple of new forums.

    Complex Systems: Or whatever you would call it; non-linear systems, chaotic systems, etc. I'm surprised that there is not one up and running considering this subject(s) has a lot more to do with the 'real' world than all of the classes one can take in an undergraduate course curriculum. The topic is rich and emerging as being very important as the easier problems get solved and we are forced to find new turf!

    Econophysics: Hey, everyone is trying to make money and what a better way to combine a zeal for physics with the demand to make money! Besides, those finance guys crack me up with the almost mystical mumbo jumbo mathematical misnomers they spew off. It is nice to see someone who is not afraid of the math using it in that context. Besides I helped a friend of mine do some work on this topic which was presented at an econophysics meeting a couple of years ago! So I have an interest.

    Thoughts and feedback is welcome!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2005 #2

    jcsd

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    Oh! Can we have a Corey Haim fourm?
     
  4. Feb 6, 2005 #3
    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     
  5. Feb 7, 2005 #4

    Tom Mattson

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    I think that complex systems can go under Systems Engineering, and that economics can go under Social Science. In fact, I would love to see a social science thread that is not related to IQ or race, for a change.
     
  6. Feb 7, 2005 #5

    Moonbear

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    I second that!!! I might actually start reading that section again (it was requiring too much effort to reply to those posts and not replying left me fuming, so I've been just avoiding for my own sanity).
     
  7. Feb 7, 2005 #6

    I have to disagree Tom. There is a subtle connotative difference with the word 'systems' when engineers use it as compared to physicists and mathematicians. For the former, my impression is the direct application to specific kind of technical application while the latter is formally more abstract. When I hear the phrase 'complex systems' I automatically think:

    Non-linear systems
    Chaotic Systems
    Fractals and Fractional DEs
    Non-extensive systems
    Neural networks
    Self organizing systems and biology
    etc.

    The same does not necessarily apply when it comes to engineering. It really is a completely different ball game!

    Now as for 'Econophysics', well this is yet another completely different beast that could be far from the social sciences. When I think 'Econophysics' the following comes to mind:

    Economics(and all its quandaries)
    Game theory(or graph theory if you prefer)
    Stochastics
    Statistics
    etc.

    Besides, if you have done the math associated with the study of physics the applications to finance and actuarial sciences are pretty immediate. Lots of people make lots of money this way, besides why should all of the business jerks make all of the money?


    Hey it sounds like you may have an interesting thread: Why do people obsess with IQ and race so much? :rofl:
     
  8. Feb 7, 2005 #7

    Tom Mattson

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    Well, use your judgment then. It is still not apparent to me that it requires a whole Forum.

    No, not at all. The discipline of systems engineering has as a fundamental element the analysis of mathematical models of engineering systems whose equations are formally identical. If that's not an abstraction, then I don't know what is.

    Any of those could find a home in Systems Engineering.

    You really need to know where to put this one? :smile:

    Ask any econ major: econometrics and quantitative analysis belong to the discipline of economics, too. So you should ask yourself: "Self, is my thread an economics thread that requires game theory to develop it, or is it a game theory thread that uses economics as an application?"

    If it's the first, it's Social Science. If it's the second, it's General Math.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2005 #8
    WOW, so how many people tell you that you are conceited? Oh well, not my problem, luckily! I was just trying to make a suggestion for what I thought was the benefit of the forum, but since your judgement is so much better.....:rofl:

    Oh yeah, explain why the arXiv has a nonlinear scineces section?

    One more, explain why Physica A publishes in the area of 'Econphysics' as well as the ongoing commitment by portions of the physics community that has taken on this subject, of course money is a motive. Econophysics
     
  10. Feb 7, 2005 #9

    Moonbear

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    Polyb, what Tom is saying is find the forum here that looks like the closest fit. There's already a lot of forums here, and mentors are stretched thin, so make use of existing forums and see how things go. I don't think there's a need to create new forums unless there are tons of people discussing a topic such that it makes sense to break it out of another area. Social sciences is a huge category and gets relatively few new topics. Economics definitely falls under the social sciences category. I don't really know what econophysics does. It sounds like a subdiscipline of economics more than of physics from the little description you've provided (I don't know anything about it, so could be wrong). Basically, if it's about money, stick it in social sciences (or it may fit into politics depending on the specific issue you want to discuss).

    Topics on neural networks and biological systems can go into biology. I know you're referring to the "mathematical" side of it. Just decide which you're more heavily focusing on. People studying that are in both math departments and biology/neuroscience departments, so either one is currently an appropriate placement. And if you do discuss mathematical modelling of neural networks, the model better include more than two or three neurons or I've already got my challenges ready. Actually, you could even stick it under general engineering, because often those fall under the category of biomedical engineering as well (people doing research in those fields really have no single home), but we don't have a biomedical engineering forum.

    Well, this is all a long-winded way of saying test the waters first. Let's see if there's any great response to the topic before deciding if entirely new forums are required. I suspect the reason we see so few economics posts in social sciences is that we just don't have many economists here to discuss these topics, so make use of an under-utilized forum before creating a new one. At a later date, the description of the forum could always be modified to highlight inclusion of some new topics if it works well there.

    As I'm replying though, and having noticed the absence of biomedical engineering as a forum under engineering (I don't see many biomedical engineers here anyway), I wonder if instead of forming a narrower forum, we could expand the biology forum a bit. There is also some confusion that people aren't sure if medical topics fall under biology (I'm not sure why there is confusion as the connection seems obvious to me, but apparently not to everyone). Perhaps making the forum title something like Biological and Biomedical Sciences, which could then be inclusive of biomedical engineering and modeling of biological systems, would solve this dilemma for at least some topics.
     
  11. Feb 7, 2005 #10

    Gokul43201

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    While I agree that we probably do not need a new forum for nonlinear systems, I do agree that the kinds of areas that polyb has in mind would hardly fit into systems engineering. Such work is typically done by physicists who work in, or are associated with (soft) condensed matter. Few physics departments will devote an entire specialization to Nonlinear Systems. In my department, for instance, Dr. Bundschuch (theory), Dr. Hayot (theory) and Dr. Andereck (expt.) come under the Condensed Matter Group.

    In my opinion, the right places for questions/discussions relating to nonlinear systems would be in the Cond Mat (Atomic, Molecular, Solid State) section for most experimental ideas, and in the Differential Equations section for theoretical threads.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2005
  12. Feb 8, 2005 #11

    enigma

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    It's funny.

    When we first switched over to the new format everyone was spooked at all the different selections we had. We eventually had to trim many forums down due to lack of interest.

    For those that are new or don't remember, we used to have less than a dozen forums. Physics, Math, Astronomy, Technology, Philosophy, Other Sciences, General Discussion. I think that was it. We had exactly 2 subforums: Theory development and Politics.

    The main problem with extra forums is lack of interest in the focused area. As it stands now, there are a few forums which don't get much traffic as it is. While we do have MANY more qualified, quality members than we did then (and it's growing ever quicker since we instituted the TD policies), I think it's a general consensus that the demand for a new forum must be there before the forum is created. If a significant majority of the posts in General Math or General Physics become related to a specific topic, then maybe it justifies creating a new forum. I just don't think that this is the case for most of the suggestions for new forums.
     
  13. Feb 8, 2005 #12
    Moonbear, Gokul, and Enigma

    The points you make about traffic demand and moderator limitations is very sound and I understand what you are saying. Please forgive me for coming across as if I had a nacho on my shoulder in response to Tom's post!:rofl:

    Gokul you are probably right in saying that for now the best place to put the topics of complex systems would either be in the condensed matter area or one of the math forums. You're right about there not being many departments being able to support a full fledged complex systems group so quite often they are thrown in with the condensed matter group. I think that at present only Michigan and New Mexico have full fledged complex systems groups.

    Perhaps it is the fact that my father is a 'systems engineer' that I immediately did not think that complex systems would belong anywhere near the engineering systems forum. Considering the paradigm difference between physics and engineering when it comes to this word 'systems' it is obvious to me that they do not mean the same thing.

    Moonbear, econophysics has everything to do with taking theoretical methods and ideas from physics or mathematics and applying them to economics. Even though most people do not know that this has been around for a little while, physics, math, and economics have a long history together. The next time some mentions the 'momentum' of the market you should immediately know where this vernacular came from: physics! It is pretty interesting stuff though I am only a novice at the moment. You would be surprised to find out how many physicists have been involved with economics and how many 'quants' used to be physicists. The math is all the same! OK, not quite but close enough.

    Keeping this whole forum organized must be maddening at times and I guess it doesn't help when you have a nutjob like myself suggesting new forums that fit my interests. I don't know if you guys have looked into it but another forum called Advanced Physics Forums does seem to be more geared towards advanced topics such as nonlinear systems which is a forum over there. Of course they do not have the snazzy Latex editor which makes posting so much easier.

    Either way, thank you for the input!
     
  14. Feb 8, 2005 #13

    Moonbear

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    I don't think people realize, in general, how much math goes into economics research (people on this board may be more aware of this than the general public though). Nonetheless, economics is described as a social science because it is still driven by human behavior. Don't let the term "social" science put you off thinking it means "soft" science or non-rigorous science. We won't let you get off the hook that easily if you post there. :biggrin: Though, if I heard an economist talking about "momentum" of the market, I would have never made a physics connection to that, but rather would have assumed it was picked up from some business-person who heard the word once and thought it made for a snazzy new buzzword. :biggrin:

    Now, do you have an salsa to go with that nacho? :rofl:
     
  15. Feb 8, 2005 #14

    ZapperZ

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    This is the very reason why Wall Street firms hired physicists (and engineers). There was a report several years ago in Physics Today that stated that 95% of MBA's have no clue of the math being used in the derivative market. Yet engineers and physicists often deal with such 2nd order non-linear differential equations all the time, AND, have the need to have a "feel" for such particular models since these things typically represent some physical processes.

    However, having said that, I still disagree that just because such a field are starting to adopt mathematical models and physics concepts, that it has attained a "rigorous" science status. It is one thing to come up with a mathematical model. It is another to actually reproducibly prove that the model is valid. This is where testing (what we in science would categorize and repeated experiment) of that model comes in. More importantly though is that in practically all cases, what the model represents is a phenomenological description, typically based on a previous set of data. As any scientist can tell you, an idea or theory or concept is never rigorous if all it has is nothing more than phenomenology.

    Zz.
     
  16. Feb 8, 2005 #15

    Tom Mattson

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    :confused:

    You got all that from me telling you to use your own judgment? Weird. Anyway, what I'm trying to explain to you is that I don't think that any of the subjects you brought up require a new Forum. And even if they did, we would first have to have enough traffic to those threads to even consider it.

    I'm not here to explain why they have a nonlinear sciences section. I'm here to explain why we don't have one.

    Look, if you have an idea for a thread, then post it in the best existing Forum. If your Systems thread doesn't fit into Systems Engineering, well then by golly feel free to put it where it does fit. And if you're not sure, then we have the catch-all "General" Forums at the top of each section. It's really not that complicated.

    I think I've explained enough, really. Economics is a Social Science. If economics is the main theme of your thread, then that's where it belongs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2005
  17. Feb 11, 2005 #16
    Tom, this all you really had to say. This alone stands to reason. The type of systems that I was suggesting are of a much more theoretical grounding than what I would think to be appropriate for a forum like systems engineering. For example, I don't think it would be appropriate to put something like "Behavior of a n-predator/prey model with stochastics" in that thread. Most would probably think it belongs in the biology forum, which it really does not. Not only does it involve non-linear computations with random variables but it is fundamentally statistical in nature.

    As for the 'econophysics' stuff, that too is theoretical and is not really fit to put into the social science forum, IMHO. That subject is more concerned with modeling economics using physics which I would tend to think belongs in another forum because it is not concerned with social impacts or consequences. Nor is it concerned with politics directly.

    As a super mentor on the physics forum you should really do yourself a favor and look into these subjects to realize that not only are they unique in the respect that they cannot easily be lobbed in with many other subject labels but that these two subjects have an importance in their own right.

    Of course this is just coming from a nut-job who has taken an interest in these subjects as part of personal academic pursuits and one day professional. It's all fun and games until someone gets a PhD.
     
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