The Standing Ovation Problem
John H. Miller and Scott E. Page
Key Words:
Standing Ovation Problem, Computational Modeling
Over the last decade, research topics such as learning, heterogeneity, networks, diffusion, and externalities, have moved from the fringe to the frontier in the social sciences. In large part this new research agenda has been driven by key tools and ideas emerging from the study of complex adaptive systems. Research is often inspired by simple models that provide a rich domain from which to explore the world. Indeed, in complex systems, Bak's (1996) sand pile, Arthur's (1994) El Farol bar, and Kauffman's (1989) NK system have provided such inspirations. Here we introduce another model that offers similar potential---the Standing Ovation Problem (SOP). This model is especially appropriate given the focus of this special issue on complex adaptive social systems. The SOP has much to offer as it (1) is easily explained and part of everyone's common experience; (2) simultaneously emphasizes some of the key themes that arise in social systems, such as learning, heterogeneity, incentives, and networks; and (3) is amenable to research efforts across a variety of fields. These features make it an ideal platform from which to explore the power, promise, and pitfalls of complexity modeling in the social sciences.