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CNN Seminar - Understanding Technology Pathway of Society from U.S. patents

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  • UserDr HyeJin Youn (The Institute of New Economic Thinking and The Mathematical Institute, Oxford)
  • ClockTuesday 17 February 2015, 16:30-17:30
  • HouseKeynes Hall in King's College.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Petra Vertes.

Technology’s advance is central to our understanding of economic growth and development. Furthermore, solutions for many of the planet’s most pressing challenges – economic recovery, poverty reduction, climate change, sustainability – require significant additions to society’s technological toolkit. Yet, our ability to quantitatively model and forecast technological change has been limited due to difficulties in defining units of analysis and in collecting comparative empirical data. Some inventions, namely patents, however, leave behind a documentary trail, enabling us to study the invention processes in a quantitative way. Here, we propose to develop a formal methodology to construct detailed technology “map” and its temporal evolution from large-scale U.S. Patent data spanning 220 years. We utilize the classification system consisting of codes as temporally consistent units of analysis (nodes). These technology codes are means to succinctly describe a patent’s technology capabilities. When codes appear together in a patent, therefore, we consider them inter-dependent to make a useable function and represent this inter-dependency by assigning a link to between them. These micro-scale invention activities add up to form networks in time where macro-scale structures emerge through temporal evolution of community structure. We observe and identify episodic change of structure over time corresponding to historic events and major breakthroughs, indicating the technology change is not gradual but serious of punctuated equilibriums.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Networks Network (CNN) series.

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