Of Flour Beetles and Wikipedians

IAM Distinguished Alumni Lecture
February 27, 2012 11:00 pm

Speaker:  Fourth Lecture – Marc Mangel

Location:  LSK 301

Intended Audience:  Public

I will begin with a summary of the principles that have guided my work over the last 30+ years. Then I will explain a classic problem in population biology: the competition between species of flour beetles that had both determinate (always the same) and indeterminate (probabilistic) outcomes, according to the initial sizes of the competing species. I will describe a number of methods that were used to solve the problem, including one that Don Ludwig and I developed during my PhD studies, and extension of those methods to other problems in biology. I will then turn to the Wikipedia, describe the dynamics of the editors of the Wikipedia, and show that the methods used to characterize the outcome of competition between flour beetles can also be used to characterize the success or failure of a Wikipedia based on its early patterns. The latter work suggests various kinds of levels that can make Wikipedias more or less likely to succeed.

Marc Mangel holds BS (Physics) and MS (Biophysics) degrees from the University of Illinois and a PhD (Applied Mathematics and Statistics) degree from the University of British Columbia. After three years at the Center for Naval Analyses, he joined the University of California at Davis. From 1980 to 1996, he served as Assistant, Associate and Full Professor – for eight years in the Department of Mathematics and eight years in the Department of Zoology (Section of Evolution and Ecology). He chaired the Department of Mathematics (1984-1989) and was founding Director of the Center for Population Biology (1989-1993). Currently Marc is Distinguished Professor of Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Director of the Center for Stock Assessment Research at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he has served since 1996. At Santa Cruz, he directed the Geographic Information Systems Laboratory (1996-1999), served as Associate Vice Chancellor, Planning and Programs (1997-1999), and chaired the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics (2007-09). Since July 2010, he has also chaired the Program in Technology and Information Management.