Are there any advances in applying feedback modeling to social systems other than in an economic sense?

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If a social system is defined as a set of decision makers (e.g. voters on a poll, members of a sports team that need to agree on a strategy, competing individuals in an adverse environment...) there is a vast amount of literature on the subject. One can find models that capture the features of the specific "social group" (e.g. robots, animals, humans) and many classes of algorithms that can help to solve certain problems. One of the first theoretical frameworks that were considered of social impact was game theory; nowadays the focus is on distributed models and algorithms. For instance one may ask the question: what's the best way to coordinate a team minimizing the need for centralized information? The answer to that, depending on the target of the team, could be a model where everyone can talk to everyone else, or only to a subset of neighbors, and pass information until they reach consensus on the strategy. A lot of research is also dedicated to animal social behavior, with a focus on insect swarming and fish schooling.

Just to get the flavor of it, here are a few references on some of the problems mentioned.

J.R. Marden, G. Arslan, and J.S. Shamma, "Connections between cooperative control and potential games ilustrated on the consensus problem", European Control Conference, July 2007.

S. Roy, K. Herlugson, and A. Saberi, "A control-theoretic perspective on distributed discrete-valued decision-making," IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, Vol. 5, No. 8, pp. 945-958, August 2006.

Dyer, J.R.G., Ioannou, C.C., Morrell, L.J., Croft, D.P., Couzin, I.D., Waters, D.A. & Krause, J (2007) Consensus decision-making in human crowds, Animal Behaviour, in press.

Nabet, B., Leonard, N.E., Couzin, I.D. & Levin, S.A.(2006) Leadership in animal group motion: a bifurcation analysis, Proceedings of the 17th Symposium on Mathematical Theory of Networks and Systems, in press.

--Elisa 18:26, 3 October 2007 (PDT)