The Global Studies Seminar presents David White.

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The Global Studies Seminar presents “Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity via statistical modeling” by Denison University’s Associate Professor of Mathematics David White. 

Ukraine’s tug-of-war between Russia and the West has had significant and lasting consequences for the country. In 2013 the Russian-leaning Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to sign the association agreement with the European Union. This led to widespread protests centered in Kyiv’s Maidan Square. The protests went on to be known as the Euromaidan protests. In this talk, White will present an analysis of open 2013 protest data from the Center for Social and Labor Research in Ukraine. This analysis shows that there is self-excitation in the system even before the Euromaidan protests began and this self-excitation magnifies during the Euromaidan protests. The statistical analysis suggests that the government’s use of force is associated with more future protests, having an inflammatory rather than suppressing effect on protests. If there is time, White will introduce a mathematical model (known as a Hawkes process) to explain the spatiotemporal dynamics of the protesting activity. This model shows that, while the protest activity spread throughout the country, the dynamics of the protests were driven by Kyiv’s level of activity. Moreover, while previous work has shown that geographical proximity is a significant predictor of the spread of events, this work illustrates that the political affinity between oblasts was a far more significant factor than the geographical distance between oblasts in determining the spread of protests. This highlights the importance of social and cultural factors in shaping the dynamics of political movements. This work is joint with Yassin Bahid, Olga Kutsenko, and Nancy Rodriguez. While the pre-print is heavily mathematical and statistical, the presentation will focus on findings rather than technical jargon, and will be accessible to a non-mathematical audience. 

White joined Denison’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in 2014. He received his doctorate and master’s degree from Wesleyan University and his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College. He teaches courses in mathematics, computer science, and statistics, and has supervised student research in all three areas. He has published over thirty papers on topics in mathematics, applied statistics, computer science, economics, and data science.

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