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Phylomemetic patterns in science evolution--the rise and fall of scientific fields.

Chavalarias D, Cointet JP - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: We introduce an automated method for the bottom-up reconstruction of the cognitive evolution of science, based on big-data issued from digital libraries, and modeled as lineage relationships between scientific fields.We refer to these dynamic structures as phylomemetic networks or phylomemies, by analogy with biological evolution; and we show that they exhibit strong regularities, with clearly identifiable phylomemetic patterns.Within the framework of a quantitative epistemology, this approach raises the question of predictibility for science evolution, and sketches a prototypical life cycle of the scientific fields: an increase of their cohesion after their emergence, the renewal of their conceptual background through branching or merging events, before decaying when their density is getting too low.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Complex Systems Institute of Paris Ile-de-France, Paris, France. david.chavalarias@ehess.fr

ABSTRACT
We introduce an automated method for the bottom-up reconstruction of the cognitive evolution of science, based on big-data issued from digital libraries, and modeled as lineage relationships between scientific fields. We refer to these dynamic structures as phylomemetic networks or phylomemies, by analogy with biological evolution; and we show that they exhibit strong regularities, with clearly identifiable phylomemetic patterns. Some structural properties of the scientific fields - in particular their density -, which are defined independently of the phylomemy reconstruction, are clearly correlated with their status and their fate in the phylomemy (like their age or their short term survival). Within the framework of a quantitative epistemology, this approach raises the question of predictibility for science evolution, and sketches a prototypical life cycle of the scientific fields: an increase of their cohesion after their emergence, the renewal of their conceptual background through branching or merging events, before decaying when their density is getting too low.

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Relation between the density of fields and their sustainability.A. Variation of the mean density in the vicinity of emerging nodes and declining nodes. B. Empirical probability of a field being in decline, as a function of the density of the fields belonging to the phylomemetic network. Fields on emerging segments have been excluded from this analysis due to their specific density dynamics. The histogram represents the proportion of fields in each bin of densitity values. Error bars represent the 95% confidence interval.
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pone-0054847-g006: Relation between the density of fields and their sustainability.A. Variation of the mean density in the vicinity of emerging nodes and declining nodes. B. Empirical probability of a field being in decline, as a function of the density of the fields belonging to the phylomemetic network. Fields on emerging segments have been excluded from this analysis due to their specific density dynamics. The histogram represents the proportion of fields in each bin of densitity values. Error bars represent the 95% confidence interval.

Mentions: This roof-shaped pattern suggests an initial trend in the life cycle of scientific fields: a growth in density when the field is emerging; a decrease when it starts to be neglected by the scientific community. This is confirmed by the density plot corresponding to emerging segments - starting with emerging nodes - and declining segments - ending with declining nodes - (see Fig. 6–a). Along a given sub-branch, starting at an emerging node, the mean density increases until the next special event. Conversely, the mean density decreases from the last special event until the declining node of the segment. These results support the idea of a gradient of sustainability, depending on the density of the fields. Mainstream science tends to take place at high-density values, whereas low-density research domains are more likely to disappear. This is well illustrated by Fig. 6–b, which plots the probability of a field to be declining, as a function of its density. Low-density fields have as much as 40% greater probability of declining than high-density fields, which raises the question of the predictability of science evolution.


Phylomemetic patterns in science evolution--the rise and fall of scientific fields.

Chavalarias D, Cointet JP - PLoS ONE (2013)

Relation between the density of fields and their sustainability.A. Variation of the mean density in the vicinity of emerging nodes and declining nodes. B. Empirical probability of a field being in decline, as a function of the density of the fields belonging to the phylomemetic network. Fields on emerging segments have been excluded from this analysis due to their specific density dynamics. The histogram represents the proportion of fields in each bin of densitity values. Error bars represent the 95% confidence interval.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3569444&req=5

pone-0054847-g006: Relation between the density of fields and their sustainability.A. Variation of the mean density in the vicinity of emerging nodes and declining nodes. B. Empirical probability of a field being in decline, as a function of the density of the fields belonging to the phylomemetic network. Fields on emerging segments have been excluded from this analysis due to their specific density dynamics. The histogram represents the proportion of fields in each bin of densitity values. Error bars represent the 95% confidence interval.
Mentions: This roof-shaped pattern suggests an initial trend in the life cycle of scientific fields: a growth in density when the field is emerging; a decrease when it starts to be neglected by the scientific community. This is confirmed by the density plot corresponding to emerging segments - starting with emerging nodes - and declining segments - ending with declining nodes - (see Fig. 6–a). Along a given sub-branch, starting at an emerging node, the mean density increases until the next special event. Conversely, the mean density decreases from the last special event until the declining node of the segment. These results support the idea of a gradient of sustainability, depending on the density of the fields. Mainstream science tends to take place at high-density values, whereas low-density research domains are more likely to disappear. This is well illustrated by Fig. 6–b, which plots the probability of a field to be declining, as a function of its density. Low-density fields have as much as 40% greater probability of declining than high-density fields, which raises the question of the predictability of science evolution.

Bottom Line: We introduce an automated method for the bottom-up reconstruction of the cognitive evolution of science, based on big-data issued from digital libraries, and modeled as lineage relationships between scientific fields.We refer to these dynamic structures as phylomemetic networks or phylomemies, by analogy with biological evolution; and we show that they exhibit strong regularities, with clearly identifiable phylomemetic patterns.Within the framework of a quantitative epistemology, this approach raises the question of predictibility for science evolution, and sketches a prototypical life cycle of the scientific fields: an increase of their cohesion after their emergence, the renewal of their conceptual background through branching or merging events, before decaying when their density is getting too low.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Complex Systems Institute of Paris Ile-de-France, Paris, France. david.chavalarias@ehess.fr

ABSTRACT
We introduce an automated method for the bottom-up reconstruction of the cognitive evolution of science, based on big-data issued from digital libraries, and modeled as lineage relationships between scientific fields. We refer to these dynamic structures as phylomemetic networks or phylomemies, by analogy with biological evolution; and we show that they exhibit strong regularities, with clearly identifiable phylomemetic patterns. Some structural properties of the scientific fields - in particular their density -, which are defined independently of the phylomemy reconstruction, are clearly correlated with their status and their fate in the phylomemy (like their age or their short term survival). Within the framework of a quantitative epistemology, this approach raises the question of predictibility for science evolution, and sketches a prototypical life cycle of the scientific fields: an increase of their cohesion after their emergence, the renewal of their conceptual background through branching or merging events, before decaying when their density is getting too low.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus