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PHD Computational Social Science, Korean, International Relations, Avoidance of War

Updated: Jan 23


I hope to be accepted to the distinguished program in Computational Social Science at XXXX University primarily due to my dedication to noble ideals, most notably the prevention of war. The central research goal that I have in mind for my investigations at the doctoral level is a simulation of international relations using agent-based modeling, complex systems, machine learning, and information visualization to discern and describe trends in international relations. My research will also entail developing, testing, and refining foreign policy priorities and how this relates to their diplomatic strategies and plans for safeguarding national security, through the avoidance of war. I hope to shed light on the following questions through my doctoral research: “Is the world becoming more peaceful, or is the likelihood of suffering from conflicts and wars on the increase? Is it possible to predict military matches in advance using computer simulation, and what does the simulator suggest for the future of East Asia in terms of peace or the absence of peace?


I have long been interested in international relations and military history, which probably has something to do with being Korean since few lands have suffered more than ours as a result of an extensive and sustained conflict that remains unresolved to this day, not only threatening the peace and security of the Korean people but everyone, worldwide, due to the devastating nature of modern-day warfare and the way that it tends to go out of control once it is started. Many scholars of the politics of war see good news on the horizon, suggesting that the threat of war has been reduced in recent years. However, I find this position difficult to accept and remain skeptical about the chances of achieving lasting global peace or even keeping the peace between the world’s major powers. Hence, the urgency that I perceive with my research. Having read widely about international relations, trade, and interstate conflict, I was pleased to discover the Correlates of War (COW) Project. I realized that I could use this data to advance my INF 554 Information Visualization Project, addressing the question of the extent to which there has been an increase in the number of wars over the years and further exploring the relationship between trade and war. By visualizing data sets of the Correlates of War project, including information on Militarized Interstate Disputes, Wars, and Trade, I labored to visualize the relationship between dependence on trade and the number of wars that occurred between countries. Using a map with conflict recorded in graphic form from 1816 to 2014, listing, for example, how many countries were at war in each given year, I was able to explore how these figures changed over time, whether they increased or decreased, which countries took part in the major wars, etc. As a result of this project, I began to consider modeling and implementing a simulation of international relations, using agent-based models, machine learning, statistical methodology, complex systems, and information visualization.


I have prepared for research on the doctoral level in various ways, most of all through my efforts in my Master’s Degree Program at the University of XXXX and during my Bachelor's program at Inha University. My education has been tailored to prepare for research in modeling and simulation beginning with the two Senior projects I completed as an undergraduate student. As a Masters's student, I focused on the properties and best architecture of neural networks, taking a close look at more than one hundred real-world datasets, the last one I worked on being liver transplant data. This project included analyzing a dataset provided by the Department of Surgery at the XXXX School of Medicine at UXX, identifying features associated with graft survival after orthotopic liver transplantation, and predicting graft survival after Orthotopic liver transplantation using pre-transplant features.


By modeling countries with agent-based methods, it would be possible to develop realistic, high-resolution, detailed representations with land, sea, air, space, and cyber domains comprised of human, artificial, and natural components that work together to replicate how international systems work. Virtual worlds of high-fidelity ABMs would be capable of reproducing the known historical record, which could go a long way towards at least shedding some light on the present and the impact on the future that today’s events might well have. In this way, we might be better positioned to ward off conflicts in our international system due to foresight, preparation, and countermeasures, including how to develop, test, and refine a given nation’s mid-to-long-term foreign policy diplomatic strategies. I began by searching for research articles that would provide me with helpful ideas to build a computer simulation for the field of international relations based on my interest in agent-based modeling, which led me to the work of Masad on modeling agents in conflict, Dr. Cioffi Revilla on IR computational modeling, and Dr. Selke’s work in the area of war games and computer modeling. Reading such thinkers, I became more aware, generally speaking, of the great promise of the field of Computational Social Science. I also realized that many of these thinkers had ties to XXXX University, cementing my conviction that XXU was where I needed to earn my Ph.D. It would be a special honor for me to study under Professors XXXX and Professor XXXX, particularly in the area of international systems, which would provide me with the solid foundation and creative inspiration that I need in this area. This will help me better understand how and why war occurs in our current global system and what prevents states from making war in today’s world - how our international systems are evolving and why.


Upon completing my Ph.D., I would like to work with an organization such as Geopolitical Future, Stratfor, or the UN; if I do not stay in academia. I hope to continue researching international systems simulations and working towards a vision of the future in international relations. I look forward to giving my all to my doctoral studies with a sense of intense dedication to the goal of providing scholars and political leaders alike with the finest tools that science can devise to help secure a more peaceful world for future generations. By testing and refining plans for international peace and security simulations of global systems, our leaders and those who advise them will have access to additional, handy resources for making critical evaluations and decisions concerning international politics and diplomacy. I am not yet clear about the particular relevance that my work might have for advancing toward a negotiated peace on the Korean Peninsula. As a graduate student at XXU, I will continue to keep one eye on this conflict and search for particular applications of modeling in IR that might be useful towards this end. There are a variety of think tanks devoted to solving the Korean conflict, and I look forward to networking and collaborating with those institutions. I thank you for considering my application to Computational Social Science at XXU.


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