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Trinity College Dublin

1st International Workshop on Computational History

This workshop is now closed. The current workshop can be found at 2nd International Workshop on Computational History and Data-Driven Humanities.

Data-driven humanities: teaching computers history so they can calculate the unknown
June 27th 2014, RIA, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

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The International Workshop on Computational History, which focuses on the challenges and opportunities of data-driven humanities, brings together world-leading scientists and scholars at the forefront of this emerging field, at the interface between computer science, social science, humanities and mathematics. As historical knowledge becomes increasingly available in forms that computers can process, it becomes amenable to large-scale computational analysis and interpretation. Mathematical analysis of the dynamic, evolutionary patterns observed in the data helps us to better understand the past and can even produce empirically-grounded predictions about the future.

This day-long event will be divided into two main sessions. The morning session will focus on teaching computers history. Computer scientists and digital humanities experts will introduce technologies and tools they have applied in order to extract knowledge from historical records in a form that can be processed by computers without losing its meaningfulness. The theme of the afternoon session is calculating the unknown. A collection of leading international scientists, working at the forefront of mathematical and theoretical analysis of historical data, will describe what is possible with current tools.

The workshop will be preceded by a public lecture, The mathematics of impending social implosion, on June 26th by Professor Peter Turchin. It will be held at 6-7:30pm in the Royal Irish Academy. Admission to the public lecture is free to all, and offered on a first-come, first-served basis (no registration required).


Royal Irish Academy
19 Dawson St
Dublin 2

Click here for map.


Attendance at this events requires pre-registration. Tickets cost €20. Please use the eventBrite link below to register. A light lunch will be provided for all attendees.
Eventbrite - 1st International Workshop on Computational History
Click on the download button (Download Button) after each talk to download the slides. Click on the audio icon (Audio) to download a recording of the talk.


Session 1: Teaching computers history
Chair: Declan O’Sullivan
9am – 12.30pm
8.45 Registration
9.00 Introduction & Welcome Prof. Declan O’Sullivan, Trinity College Dublin
Head of Intelligent Systems Discipline, School of Computer Science and Statistics
9.15 Digitising History – why should historians care? Prof. Micheál Ó Siochrú, Department of History, Trinity College Dublin. Download Audio
9.40 Technologies for extracting knowledge from historical records and archives Profs. Owen Conlan & Seamus Lawless, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin Download Audio
10.15 Digital Repository of Ireland and the importance of trusted digital preservation Dr. Natalie Harrower, Royal Irish Academy Download Audio
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Irish Record Linkage: national opportunities and international obstacles Dr. Ciara Breathnach, University of Limerick Download Audio
11.30 Seshat - the global history databank project Prof. Peter Turchin, University of Connecticut Prof of Ecology, Anthropology & Mathematics Download Audio
12.00 Building technology platforms for data curation – Dacura and Linked Data Dr. Kevin Feeney, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin Download Audio
12.30 Lunch
Session 2: Calculating the future
Chair: Rob Brennan
1.30pm - 5pm
1.30 Mathematical models of complex historical processes - an introduction Prof. Sergey Gavrilets, University of Tennessee Professor of Arts & Sciences, Mathematics, Ecology Download Audio
2.00 Modeling population dynamics in Old World agrarian empires James Bennett, University of Washington Netflix VP, creator of Netflix prize Download Audio
2.30 A network-based approach for studying technological evolution and revealing patterns of combinatorial change Dr. Ioannis Psorakis, Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford Download Audio
3.00 Coffee Break
3.30 Geospatial Network Modelling of the Roman Empire Prof. Walter Scheidel, Stanford University Chair of Classics Audio
4.00 Global-scale mathematical models of social evolution: investigating the development of the modern world Dr. Tom Currie, University of Exeter Lecturer in Cultural Evolution Download Audio
4.30 Panel Session: the way forward TBC Audio

After the panel session, we invite you to continue the conversation in Café en Seine, 40 Dawson Street, just across the street.

ECTS Certificates for Attendance

The organisers recommend that student attendees receive 1-2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) of credit for researching the event background and speakers, participating in the workshop and writing a brief report for their supervisors or research group.

The organisers will provide signed certificates of attendance on request (please contact us on the day and we will print and stamp them for you).

Organising Committee

Prof. Declan O'Sullivan (general chair), KDEG, TCD
Dr. Kevin Feeney (co-chair), KDEG, TCD
Dr. Rob Brennan (co-chair), KDEG, TCD
Dr. Natalie Harrower (co-chair), DRI, RIA
Dr. Sandra Collins, DRI, RIA
Prof. Peter Turchin, UConn
Dr. Christophe Debruyne, DRI, RIA

This workshop has been partially funded by a New Foundations Grant from the Irish Research Council.

Download icon designed by Jens Windolf, Speaker designed by Edward Boatman from the Noun Project