This June, a team of UC Santa Barbara computer scientists, engineers, and sociologists received a $6.25 million grant from the Defense Department’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) for a study about group success and group adaptability to achieve goals.
The study, which will analyze group behavior through mathematical algorithms, has been granted funding for five years. Research will compare the methods and adaptability of groups that are working towards different types of goals. Scientists will analyze simple participant questionnaires from before and after group participation in order to determine the underlying mechanisms of group behavior.
Commenting on the intersection between the social sciences and quantitative sciences, UCSB Chair of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Francesco Bullo, said that the study uses statistical analysis to find patterns in “how people interact” and “how they influence each other.” Bullo and his colleagues Ambuj Singh, Chair of Computer Science, and Noah Friedkin, Sociology Professor, are specifically interested in social patterns and power dynamics within groups such as “the formation of opinions, the propagation of information in groups, and the emergence of influential individuals.”
Over the past 10 years, UCSB has been one of the top five MURI grant-funded universities in the country and has had the leading number of faculty working on such projects.