Science, Small Groups, and Stochasticity

8 thoughts on “Science, Small Groups, and Stochasticity”

  1. Interesting post, as always, Raghu. Another interesting way to mime the first set of data would be by gender (where possible) – I wonder how the half-lives of underrepresented groups compare with the mainstream. It would offer new insight into the diversity question. (Other aspects of diversity would be great to study in this way, too, but harder to recognize from their names.)

    1. I agree that this would be interesting to see! I’m not sure of what I’d expect the answer to be, however. My rough impression is that people from underrepresented groups leave earlier in the pipeline (for a wide range of reasons), but being white and male is at the moment a notable disadvantage at the stage of getting a faculty offer (relative to population).

  2. There is a much earlier treatment of some of this, one which brings up precisely the problems arising from exponential growth, in a book by H. W. Menard: Science, Growth and Change (Harvard University Press, 1971). It looks to me as though the half-life values start to decline at just about that time–exactly when the postwar funding boom came to an end,

    1. Thanks for the pointer! I think many of our issues stem from structures created during the postwar boom that are not well suited to a stable (or less-than-exponential-growth) state. For example: using universities graduate students, to provide a large pool of researchers.

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