Thursday, 6 March 2008

A Paper

Alex has directed my attention to this paper:

Individualistic networks and networking individuals in Tango Argentino
Céline Kuttler and Ralf Blossey
Interdisciplinary Research Institute, c/o IEMN, Cité Scientifique - Avenue Poincaré BP69, F-59652 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France

The abstract reads:
We have performed a simulation study of the social network arising from dancing partner selection in Tango Argentino. Tango Argentino is a famous ‘intellectual’ dance which combines individualistic behaviour with consensual social rules, generating complex patterns of network behaviour in time. We quantify these patterns by time-dependent degree distributions and clustering coefficients for the network structure, and by monitoring the evolution of the individual dancers’ skill. In particular, we have investigated how successful new dancers are in entering the network under the promotion of established network members. Our approach allows us to predict the success of mentoring in a social network.

As far as I can tell from reading the thing, that means that they created a computer program which looks a bit like a milonga in Germany. After reading the document in full twice, it is completely unclear to me whether any of the model's predictions turned out to be accurate in the real world, or how you could possibly tell - or even whether the researchers considered that question relevant. Some of their assumptions seem plausible, others pretty bizarre, but it's somewhat interesting that they don't mention teachers at all.

I may be wrong, but I am pretty certain this is a paper about computer programming rather than tango. The tango just provides some data for it to play with.

But there are some interesting and amusing things to think about in there.

5 comments:

koolricky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
koolricky said...

I meant to say in the previous post... This is when tango becomes boring... Argh!

Chile said...

'...that they created a computer program which looks a bit like a milonga in Germany. '

Would you care to elaborate?

msHedgehog said...

@chile - that's all there is to it really. The researchers seem to think that the simulation they created was a plausible model of an evening of tango, given some data collected from the German scene. They don't say so clearly, though, and they don't say how they know whether it was plausible or not. You can read the paper yourself - it's very short.

Chile said...

Ta, I had time to read the paper now. It's amusing to think that the parametres of a tango community are deemed simple (or well-defined) enough to suit a social network modelling attempt. As for their conclusions - they don't match my empirical knowledge of the subject at all...