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Computational Model of Peace Predicts Social Violence, Harmony

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Peace, dude

Credit: Courtesy of Wired News

New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) researchers have developed a computational model that analyzes census data to identify potential areas of civil violence, based on the premise that community-level violence is a function of geography modulated by the overlap of political, topographical, and ethnic borders.

The researchers, led by NECSI president Yaneer Bar-Yam, found that violence is unlikely when either diverse communities are so integrated that it prevents one group from dominating, or so segregated that political and geographic boundaries match demographic borders.

"Violence arises due to the structure of boundaries between groups rather than as a result of inherent conflicts between the groups themselves," Bar-Yam says.

The researchers tested the model on data from Switzerland, which is known for its social stability and prosperity, but contains a diverse cultural mix consisting of many languages and religions. The researchers' model found that one area with an increased propensity for violence was the northwest region of the country, where the Jura mountains form a boundary between French and German-speaking communities. This region is exactly where violence erupted in the 1970s.

From Wired News
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