Here is the PDF of DRAFT Agenda for our Online Academic Conference entitled “The Physics of Law” which will take place on November 12-13. We have 20 Accepted Paper Abstracts from Research Teams from Around the World. Access to the Conference is FREE – but Registration is Required. Sign Up Today at PhysicsOfLaw.com !
Papers presented at this Conference are part of a Special Track for Frontiers in Physics and will appear in 2021 (after undergoing the Peer Review Process). Note although this is a technical conference — papers will reflect a range of methodological approaches (i.e. may be either Theoretical or Empirical).
We welcome Original Research and Reviews where complexity science and quantitative approaches are deployed to evaluate the law / legal systems. Papers will be Peer Reviewed under the standards of Frontiers in Physics (or allied Frontiers Journals).
Papers can be empirical or theoretical but should be technical. If you have any questions feel free to message me.
An Online Virtual Conference will be held in early November.
Updated Version of our Paper — ’Complex Societies and the Growth of the Law’ is now on SSRN / arXiv. It is primarily a methods and measurement paper combining Network Science, Natural Language Processing, etc. to evaluate the growth of the law as a function of time. #LegalComplexity #LegalScience #NLP #NetworkScience #ComplexSystems #DataScience
ABSTRACT – While a large number of informal factors influence how people interact, modern societies rely upon law as a primary mechanism to formally control human behaviour. How legal rules impact societal development depends on the interplay between two types of actors: the people who create the rules and the people to which the rules potentially apply. We hypothesise that an increasingly diverse and interconnected society might create increasingly diverse and interconnected rules, and assert that legal networks provide a useful lens through which to observe the interaction between law and society. To evaluate these propositions, we present a novel and generalizable model of statutory materials as multidimensional, time-evolving document networks. Applying this model to the federal legislation of the United States and Germany, we find impressive expansion in the size and complexity of laws over the past two and a half decades. We investigate the sources of this development using methods from network science and natural language processing. To allow for cross-country comparisons over time, we algorithmically reorganise the legislative materials of the United States and Germany into cluster families that reflect legal topics. This reorganisation reveals that the main driver behind the growth of the law in both jurisdictions is the expansion of the welfare state, backed by an expansion of the tax state.
ABSTRACT: “The agglomeration of rules and regulations over time has produced a body of legal code that no single individual can fully comprehend. This complexity produces inefficiencies, makes the processes of understanding and changing the law difficult, and frustrates the fundamental principle that the law should provide fair notice to the governed. In this article, we take a quantitative, unbiased, and software-engineering approach to analyze the evolution of the United States Code from 1926 to today. Software engineers frequently face the challenge of understanding and managing large, structured collections of instructions, directives, and conditional statements, and we adapt and apply their techniques to the U.S. Code over time. Our work produces insights into the structure of the U.S. Code as a whole, its strengths and vulnerabilities, and new ways of thinking about individual laws. For example, we identify the first appearance and spread of important terms in the U.S. Code like “whistleblower” and “privacy.” We also analyze and visualize the network structure of certain substantial reforms, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and show how the interconnections of references can increase complexity and create the potential for unintended consequences. Our work is a timely illustration of computational approaches to law as the legal profession embraces technology for scholarship, to increase efficiency, and to improve access to justice.”
Mike and I have been on this beat for quite a while and are happy to see this getting coverage. The basic proposition is that dashboards, histograms, network visualization, etc. allow the end user to more effectively identify the relevant data/information. Here are a few examples of work we have undertaken:
(1) The Supreme Court’s increasing reliance upon its own decisions over the 1800-1830 window.
(2) The important role of maritime/admiralty law in the early years of the Supreme Court’s citation network. At least with respect to the Supreme Court’s citation network, these maritime decisions are the root of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence.
The Development of Structure in the SCOTUS Citation Network
The visualization offered above is the largest weakly connected component of the citation network of the United States Supreme Court (1800-1829). Each time slice visualizes the aggregate network as of the year in question.
In our paper entitled Distance Measures for Dynamic Citation Networks, we offer some thoughts on the early SCOTUS citation network. In reviewing the visual above note ….“[T]he Court’s early citation practices indicate a general absence of references to its own prior decisions. While the court did invoke well-established legal concepts, those concepts were often originally developed in alternative domains or jurisdictions. At some level, the lack of self-reference and corresponding reliance upon external sources is not terribly surprising. Namely, there often did not exist a set of established Supreme Court precedents for the class of disputes which reached the high court. Thus, it was necessary for the jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court, seen through the prism of its case-to-case citation network, to transition through a loading phase. During this loading phase, the largest weakly connected component of the graph generally lacked any meaningful clustering. However, this sparsely connected graph would soon give way, and by the early 1820’s, the largest weakly connected component displayed detectable structure.”
What are the elements of the network?
What are the labels?
To help orient the end-user, the visualization highlights several important decisions of the United States Supreme Court offered within the relevant time period:
Why do cases not always enter the visualization when they are decided?
As we are interested in the core set of cases, we are only visualizing the largest weakly connected componentof the United States Supreme Court citation network. Cases are not added until they are linked to the LWCC. For example, Marbury v. Madison is not added to the visualization until a few years after it is decided.
How do I best view the visualization?
Given this is a high-definition video, it may take few seconds to load. We believe that it is worth the wait. In our view, the video is best consumed (1) Full Screen (2) HD On (3) Scaling Off.
Where can I find related papers?
Here is a non-exhaustive list of related scholarship: