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Computational Social Science (CSS)

Reference Research Group: Laboratory of Agent-Based Social Simulation (LABSS-ISTC-CNR)


The goal of this Track is understanding and managing of complex, global, socially interactive systems, using computational modelling, with a focus on agent-based modelling. Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century and is equally important for the development of novel robust, trustworthy and adaptive information and communication technologies (ICT), based on socially inspired paradigms.

Data-based and simulation-based computational modeling is a highly sought professional skill. In recent years, firms have invested heavily in professional figures who are analysing large data volumes, for the purpose of understanding trends, dynamics, relationships. Examples of application range from finance, marketing, economic planning, business strategy study, and market analysis.

Criteria for selection to access the Track

The student must master the following skills: Advanced computer usage (productivity, communication management, internet information gathering, software compile and install); Knowledge of Linux preferred; Basic programming skill or logic/mathematical approach to problem-solving; Knowledge of descriptive statistics. The student will have to submit a curriculum and a short project proposal. Selected students will conduct an assessment interview.

Profile of ideal applicants

This Track will host two typologies of students: those interested in the scientific study of society, economy, culture dynamics with computational models,  those interested to apply the computational model of society to an applicative framework.

Professional possibilities after the School

  • Application for a PhD with bursary after the School, either in Italy or abroad, as the first step towards an academic career leading to a research career. 
  • Possible enrollment during the School, and specifically after the successful admission to the internship, to a PhD program without bursary, in particular the “PhD in Computer Science – University of Plymouth (Plymouth, UK)” (made possible by an agreement between ISTC-CNR and the University of Plymouth). 
  • Professional employment in the private sector, as data analyst and specialist in what-if scenarios. 
  • Professional employment in the public sector, in institutions that deal with economic strategies and policy evaluation

Topics of the Research Project (each student Project will focus on a sub-set of topics)

  1. Computational Social Science
  2. Social Cognition (Norms, Reputation, Emotions, Socio-Cognitive  architecture)
  3. Computational economics (Agent-based Computational Economics, Finance, Microfoundation of macro economy, Organization, Planning, Markets)
  4. Computational sociology (Game theory, Deviance, Crime, History, Policy, Cultural dynamics, Econophysics Complex system, Big data)


  • Agent based modelling and simulation
  • Statistical modeling


Accomplishment of a School Project Outcome

Preparation of a scientific paper, submitted at the time of Project Discussion or a business plan for a start-up or an analysis about (a) a policy, (b) an economic/social strategy, (c) a market (alternative)