Optimal Matching and Social Sciences
This working paper is a reflection on the conditions required to use optimalmatching (OM) in social sciences. Despite its striking success in biology, optimalmatching was not invented to solve biological questions but computer science ones:OM is a family of distance concepts originating in information and coding theorywere it is known under various names among which Hamming, and Levenshteindistance. As a consequence, the success of this method in biology has nothing to dowith the alleged similarity of the way it operates with biological processes but withchoices of parameters in accordance with the kind of materials and questionsbiologists are facing. As materials and questions differ in social sciences, it is notpossible to import OM directly from biology. The very basic fact that sequences ofsocial events are not made of biological matter but of events and time is crucial forthe adaptation of OM: insertion and deletion operations warp time and are to beavoided if information regarding the social regulation of the timing of event is to befully recovered. A formulation of substitution costs taking advantage of the socialstructuration of time is proposed for sequences sharing the same calendar: dynamicsubstitution costs can be derived from the series of transition matrices describingsocial sub-rhythms. An application to the question of the scheduling of work isproposed: using data from the 1985-86 and 1998-99 French time-use surveys,twelve types of workdays are uncovered. Their interpretability and quality,assessed visually through aggregate and individual tempograms, and box plots,seem satisfactory.
|Date of creation:||2006|
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