GSO-2011: Terry Bossomaier
Identifying Phase Transitions in Cognition and Society
Phase transitions are well established in physical systems, as, for example, the melting of a solid to a liquid or the change in the magnetic state of a material. Such changes are in essence are major order/disorder transitions, with a number of particular characteristics, and can occur in other domains outside of physics.
Mutual information has proved a useful metric for such transitions and we discuss the empirical and mathematical evidence for such use. Then we consider two test cases: phase transitions in the stock market; and transitions in cognition in the development of expertise in the Game of Go.
In a study of around 100 equities over a decade, mutual information was found to peak at recognised stock market crashes, some well known, others less so.
In the Game of Go a distinct transition in the appreciation of global influences appears at around 1 Dan amateur (a high level of play) and a phase transition occurs between the highest amateur and lowest professional Dan level.
Thus information theory proves to a be a useful metric in identifying phase transitions in social and psychological systems.
Acknowledgement: This work was carried out under Australian Research Council Grants DP0881829 and LP0453657