Law as a Seamless Web … Poster for WIN Conference @ NYU Stern

Seamless Web Poster

As we mentioned in previous posts, Seadragon is a really cool product. Please note load times may vary depending upon your specific machine configuration as well as the strength of your internet connection. For those not familiar with how to operate it please see below. In our view, the Full Screen is best the way to go ….

The Structure of the United States Code

United States Code (All Titles)

Formally organized into 50 titles, the United States Code is the repository for federal statutory law. While each of the 50 titles define a particular substantive domain, the structure within and across titles can be represent as a graph/network. In a series of prior posts, we offered visualizations at various “depths” for a number of well know U.S.C. titles. Click here and click Here for our two separate visualizations of the Tax Code (Title 26).  Click here for our visualization of the Bankruptcy Code (Title 11).  Click here for our visualization of Copyright (Title 17). While our prior efforts were devoted to displaying the structure of a given title of the US Code, the visualization above offers a complete view of the structure of the entire United States Code (Titles 1-50).

Using Seadragon from Microsoft Labs, each title is labeled with its respective number. The small black dots are “vertices” representing all sections in the aggregate US Code (~37,500 total sections). Given the size of the total undertaking, in the visual above, every title is represented to the “section level.”  As we described in earlier posts, a “section level” representation halts at the section and thus does not represent any of subsection depth.  For example, all sections under 26 U.S.C. § 501 including the well known § 501 (c) (3) are reattributed upward to their parent section.

There are two sources of structure within the United States Code. The explicitly defined structure / linkage / dependancy derives from the sections contained under a given title. The more nuanced version of structure is obtained from references or definitions contained within particular sections. This class of connections not only link sections within a given title but also connection sections across titles.  Within this above visual, we represent these important cross-title references by coloring them red.

Taken together, this full graph of the Untied States Code is quite large {i.e. directed graph (|V| = 37500, |E| = 197749)}. There exist 37,500 total sections distributed across the 50 Titles. However, these sections are not distributed in a uniform manner. For example, components such as Title 1 feature very few sections while Titles such as 26 and 42 contain many sections. The number of edges far outstrips the number of vertices with a total 197,000+ edges in the graph.

Picture 1 Seadragon has a number of nice features which enhance the experience of the end user. For example, a user can drag the image around by clicking and holding down the mouse button. Most importantly, is the symbol to the left. If you run your mouse over the above zoomable visual… look for this symbol to appear in the southeast corner.  Click on it and it will make the visual full size… as you will see… the full size visual makes for a far more compelling HCI

Special Social Networks Themed Issue of American Politics Research

American Politics Research

There are a number of high quality interdisciplinary research groups here at Michigan.  We are working with one of these groups — The Political Networks Lab. It is led by Michael Heaney (now here at Michigan in Organizational Studies). Michael is the author of numerous publications and was recently the guest editor of a special issue of American Politics Research. We wanted to highlight this recent issue as there are a number of articles that might be of interest.  Click above to view the contents!

The Law Clerkship Tournament : The Expanded Edition [Repost from 8/3]


Our multipart series on the clerkship tournament continues above with an expanded edition of our underlying dataset.  It is important to note that we do not threshold for the number of graduates per school. Specifically, we do not just divide by the number graduates per school because we do not have any particular theoretic reason to believe that placements linearly scale to differences in size of graduating classes. In other words, given we do not know the proper functional form — we just offer the raw data for your consideration. For those interested in other posts, please click here for the law clerks tag. 

In the previous circuit/district post, we focused upon the “top” 15 schools as ranked by an older version of US News.  When we expand the analysis to consider a wider slice of institutions, two schools standout — Texas and Notre Dame.  Basically, the arbitrariness of the prior cut off we imposed did not really do justice to these institutions … this wider view provides a deeper indication of their standing relative to other institutions.  

The Dynamics of Deterrence – New Article in PNAS

PNAS 08.25.09

The latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) features The Dynamics of Deterrence by Mark Kleiman & Beau Kilmer.  Here is the abstract:  “Because punishment is scarce, costly, and painful, optimal enforcement strategies will minimize the amount of actual punishment required to effectuate deterrence. If potential offenders are sufficiently deterrable, increasing the conditional probability of punishment (given violation) can reduce the amount of punishment actually inflicted, by “tipping” a situation from its high-violation equilibrium to its low-violation equilibrium. Compared to random or “equal opportunity” enforcement, dynamically concentrated sanctions can reduce the punishment level necessary to tip the system, especially if preceded by warnings. Game theory and some simple and robust Monte Carlo simulations demonstrate these results, which, in addition to their potential for reducing crime and incarceration, may have implications for both management and regulation.”