Social Science (SS) Undergraduate Courses (2017-18)
SS 98. Reading in Social Science. Units to be determined for the individual by the department: Elective, in any term. Reading in social science and related subjects, done either in connection with the regular courses or independently of any course, but under the direction of members of the department. A brief written report will usually be required. Graded pass/fail. Not available for credit toward humanities-social science requirement.
SS 101. Selected Topics in Social Science. Units to be determined by arrangement with the instructor: offered by announcement. Not available for social science credit unless specifically approved by social science faculty. Instructors: Staff, visiting lecturers.
CNS/SS/Psy/Bi 102 ab. Brains, Minds, and Society. 9 units (3-0-6): second, third terms. Introduction to the computations made by the brain during economic and social decision making and their neural substrates. First quarter: Reinforcement learning. Unconscious and conscious processing. Emotion. Behavioral economics. Goal-directed and habit learning. Facial processing in social neuroscience. Second quarter: History and mechanisms of reinforcement. Associative learning. Mentalizing and strategic thinking. Neural basis of prosociality. Exploration-exploitation tradeoff. Functions of basal ganglia. Instructors: Camerer, O'Doherty.
CNS/SS/Psy 110 ab. Cognitive Neuroscience Tools. 9 units (3-0-6): second, third terms. This course covers tools and statistical methods used in cognitive neuroscience research. Topics vary from year to year depending on the interests of the students. Recent topics include statistical modeling for fMRI data, experimental design for fMRI, and the preprocessing of fMRI data. Not offered 2017-18. Instructor: Rangel.
Ec/SS 124. Identification Problems in the Social Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. Statistical inference in the social sciences is a difficult enterprise whereby we combine data and assumptions to draw conclusions about the world we live in. We then make decisions, for better or for worse, based on these conclusions. A simultaneously intoxicating and sobering thought! Strong assumptions about the data generating process can lead to strong but often less than credible (perhaps incredible?) conclusions about our world. Weaker assumptions can lead to weaker but more credible conclusions. This course explores the range of inferences that are possible when we entertain a range of assumptions about how data is generated. We explore these ideas in the context of a number of applications of interest to social scientists. Instructor: Sherman.
H/SS 124. Problems in Historical Demography. 9 units (3-0-6): first term. Birth, marriage, and death-the most basic events in people's lives-are inextricably linked to larger economic and social phenomena. An understanding of these basic events can thus shed light on the economic and social world inhabited by people in the past. In this course students will be introduced to the sources and methods used by historical demographers to construct demographic measures for past populations. In addition, the course will cover a broad range of problems in historical demography, including mortality crises, fertility control, infant mortality, and the role of economic and social institutions in demographic change. While the emphasis is on societies in the past, there will be some discussion of modern demographic trends in various parts of the world. Not offered 2017-18.
Ec/SS 129. Economic History of the United States. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. An examination of certain analytical and quantitative tools and their application to American economic development. Each student is expected to write two substantial papers - drafts will be read by instructor and revised by students. Not offered 2017-18.
Ec/SS 130. Economic History of Europe from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Employs the theoretical and quantitative techniques of economics to help explore and explain the development of the European cultural area between 1000 and 1980. Topics include the rise of commerce, the demographic transition, the Industrial Revolution, and changes in inequality, international trade, social spending, property rights, and capital markets. Each student is expected to write nine weekly essays and a term paper. Not offered 2017-18.
PS/SS 139. Comparative Politics. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. The politics of non-American political systems with an emphasis on their electoral systems and methodologies for assessing their compliance with democratic standards. Students will be expected to develop data sets appropriate to analyzing elections in individual countries and offering an assessment of the pervasiveness of fraud in those elections. The student's grade will be determined by a final written report reporting the methodology and results of their analysis. Instructor: Lopez-Moctezuma.
An/SS 142. Caltech Undergraduate Culture and Social Organization. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Students in this class will help develop hypotheses, methods, and background information for the design of a new class to be offered in subsequent years, which will seek to pose and empirically test questions related to cultural and social aspects of the Caltech undergraduate experience. Central to this project will be an examination of the theory of social networks and the role they play in the academic and social experience. Other qualitative and quantitative methods for future data gathering will also be designed. Not offered 2017-18.
CS/SS/Ec 149. Algorithmic Economics. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. This course will equip students to engage with active research at the intersection of social and information sciences, including: algorithmic game theory and mechanism design; auctions; matching markets; and learning in games. Instructor: Echenique/Pomatto.
CNS/Bi/SS/Psy/NB 176. Cognition. 9 units (4-0-5): third term. The cornerstone of current progress in understanding the mind, the brain, and the relationship between the two is the study of human and animal cognition. This course will provide an in-depth survey and analysis of behavioral observations, theoretical accounts, computational models, patient data, electrophysiological studies, and brain-imaging results on mental capacities such as attention, memory, emotion, object representation, language, and cognitive development. Instructor: Shimojo.