For many spatial processes, there is a natural need to find out the point of origin on the basis of the available scatter of observations; think, for instance, of finding out the home base of a criminal given the actual distribution of crime scenes, or the outbreak source of an epidemics. In this article, we build on the topological weighted centroid (TWC) methodology that has been applied in previous research to the reconstruction of space syntax problems, for example, of problems where all relevant entities are of spatial nature so that the relationships between them are inherently spatial and need to be properly reconstructed. In this article, we take this methodology to a new standard by tackling the new and challenging task of analyzing space semantics problems, where entities are characterized by properties of a nonspatial nature and must therefore be properly spatialized.
We apply the space semantics version of the TWC methodology to a particularly hard problem: the reconstruction of global political and economic relationships on the basis of a small-dimensional qualitative dataset. The combination of a small set of spatial and nonspatial sources of information allows us to elucidate some intriguing and counterintuitive properties of the inherent global economic order and, in particular, to highlight its long-term structural features, which interestingly point toward the idea of longue durée developed by the distinguished French historian Fernand Braudel.
Article by M. BUSCEMA, P. L. SACCO, G. FERILLI, M. BREDA, AND E. GROSSI
Published in Computational Intelligence, Volume 31, Number 3, 2015
From the Conclusions (excerpt)
(…) There may be many other social phenomena that could be characterized by the same fundamental structure and level of complexity as the one studied here. Our analysis of the structure of the world order in terms of its inherent spatial semantics and a very minimal amount of nonspatial semantics seems, for example, to suggest that it is possible to analyze complex problems that are at the center of the debate in contemporary political science, such as the delicate equilibrium between the Western and Muslim cultures, by means of bits of publicly available data that would normally be judged to be entirely insufficient to the purpose. Our preliminary evidence seems to suggest that this very minimal basis may be enough to trace even very long-run socioeconomic processes and to track somewhat surprising and unexpected regularities.(…).
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