WCSS-08 Interview with Claudio Cioffi

The following is an interview with Claudio Cioffi, the local on scene coordinator for WCSS-08. Mike Prietula (MJP), President of NAACSOS, conducted the interview.

MJP: Claudio, what is WCSS-08?
WCSS-08 is the Second World Congress on Social Simulation, the premier international scientific conference for social simulation scientists and researchers from around the world working in areas of computational social science and related fields. WCSS-08 will be held on the Fairfax Campus of George Mason University, our flagship campus near Washington DC, this summer during July 14-17, 2008. We expect several hundred attendees, building on the success of the First WCSS, which took place in the summer of 2006 in Japan. We are very excited to have been selected by an international panel to host this scientific event. We owe this to our international colleagues in Europe and Asia and support from the North American Association for Computational Social and Organizational Sciences (NAACSOS). We expect participants at past NAACSOS, Agent, Arrowhead, and MABS conferences to also attend the WCSS to present their latest work.

MJP: What do you have planned for this?
The world congress will include a broad variety of presentations centered on social simulations and related topics, such as social complexity and areas of computational social science, such as network science and artificial human and social intelligence. Presentations will be in the form of papers, invited lectures, and posters. Some roundtables are also possible, depending on what the Program Committee has planned. Student participation is also encouraged, as there will be prizes.

Planning is done by our Local Committee at George Mason University, which focuses on local arrangements, and by an International Committee, focused on the actual scientific content with all kinds of presentations. The International Committee develops the Program, in consultation with our Local Committee. My French colleague, Guillaume Deffaunt chairs the International Committee, and I chair the Local Committee. We work together with the regional associations (NAACSOS, ESSA, and PAAA) to ensure a successful event.

The first WCSS took place two years ago at Kyoto University, was very well attended by colleagues from many countries, and was also sponsored by the three regional associations. A selection of congress papers was published as:

T. Terano and D. Sallach, eds. 2007. _Advancing Social Simulation: The First World Congress in Social Simulation_. Tokyo, New York, and Heidelberg: Springer Verlag.

For the second WCSS we also expect many participants from the worlds of academia, government, and business, given the interest and role of social simulation and computational social science in both pure and applied research.

MJP: Tell me about your center, the Center for Social Complexity.
The Center for Social Complexity at George Mason University was founded in 2002 for the purpose of promoting advanced research in the interdisciplinary field of computational social science. Our areas of specialty are social simulation, especially agent-based modeling, as well as social network analysis and complexity-theoretic research in social science. Our new physical facility in the Research-1 Building in the GMU/Fairfax campus is unique, being the first scientific space specifically designed by academic architects for conducting computational social science research. The Center has also spawned a graduate program with a Ph.D. Degree in CSS, the first of its kind in the country, and also a new Department of Computational Social Science. The Center joined the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study of GMU in 2006 and is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. Our main external research collaborations are with the Santa Fe Institute (Axtell), the Smithsonian Institution (Cioffi), and the Macaulay Institute (Parker).

MJP: What are you working on now?
My main projects at the moment focus on origins and long-term development of sociopolitical complexity, and on computational modeling of conflict dynamics, including both applied and theoretical aspects. As it turns out, social complexity and conflict are intrinsically related, as are forms of human cooperation such as collective action and other mechanisms. I also have a keen interest on science and policy, based on my theoretical and applied research, since so many international issues are amenable to computational social science approaches.