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What to Expect from Science in 2017: Decision-making in Social Systems

Game theory, decision theory, network analysis, experimental economics — these are the areas that will develop rapidly in the coming years, bringing together scholars from different research fields.

As long as the world around us continues to become more complicated, the demand for timely and quality decisions will only increase. Decision theory dates back to Marquis de Condorcet and was first proposed just only 250 years ago. Over this period researchers have obtained very good results in their description of individual and collective decisions, but serious problems in the field of decision-making in risky and uncertain conditions remain to be solved. I anticipate intensive work in this field in the years to come.

Other interesting problems arise in the development of new network analysis models and their application. Network analysis was initially developed by sociologists, but it has since been successfully applied to economic analysis. This year we have developed new indices of centrality, which, unlike in our previous research, consider vertex parameters, long-range interactions between vertices and their group influence on each other. Of course, this greatly increases the models’ computational complexity, but in return it gives us a very good understanding of how social networks operate.

In game theory the models usually have a very complicated description, which is hard to apply to real systems. Here we tend to review these complex models. Work to compare rational and emotional bases for individual choices can also be applied to this field. Experimental economics is another area of research. It was recently found that, even in simple situations, classical concepts of equilibrium do not work. As you know, ‘the farther an experiment is from theory, the closer it is to the Nobel Prize’.

Finally, interdisciplinary research will also play an important role. Once I counted 460 co-authors to an article on physics. In the social sciences I haven’t noticed anything similar yet, but books and papers with ten and more co-authors will be quite common. I wish everyone all the best for a happy and academically productive 2017.

What to Expect in 2017 — a Research Forecast

On the eve of New Year’s, it is customary to take a look into the near future. We asked HSE experts in various fields to share their forecasts on which areas of research might be the most interesting and promising in 2017. They tell us about what discoveries and breakthroughs await us in 2017, as well as how this could even change our lives.

Read all forecasts

December 26, 2016