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Cliodynamics[pronunciation?] (etymologically from Clio, one of the nine muses (that of history), and dynamics (the study of temporally varying processes)) is a multidisciplinary area of research focused at mathematical modeling of historical dynamics.[1]


The term was originally coined by Peter Turchin in 2003, and can be traced to the work of such figures as Ibn Khaldun, Jack Goldstone, Sergey Kapitsa, Randall Collins, Peter Turchin, John Komlos, Sergey Nefedov and Andrey Korotayev.

Mathematical modeling of historical dynamics[edit]

Many historical processes are dynamic (a dynamic process is one that changes with time). Populations increase and decline, economies expand and contract, while states grow and collapse. A very common approach, which has proved its worth in innumerable applications (particularly, but not exclusively, in the natural sciences), consists of taking a holistic phenomenon and mentally splitting it up into separate parts that are assumed to interact with each other. This is the dynamical systems approach, because the whole phenomenon is represented as a system consisting of several interacting elements (or subsystems). In the dynamical systems approach, one must describe mathematically how different subsystems interact with each other. This mathematical description is the model of the system, and one can use a variety of methods to study the dynamics predicted by the model, as well as attempt to test the model by comparing its predictions with the observed dynamics. This is the approach that the cliodynamics suggests to apply to the study of historical dynamics.

Isaac Asimov employed a fictional version of this discipline, called psychohistory, as a major plot device in his Foundation series of science fiction novels.

Cliodynamics practitioners attempt to come to with mathematical models of history to explain “big history” – things like the rise of empires, social discontent, civil wars, and state collapse.


[unbalanced opinion]

As of 2012 the main achievements in Cliodynamics are:

  • structural-demographic models of the Modern Age revolutions, including the Arab revolutions of 2011.[5]

Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History[edit]

Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History is a peer-reviewed web-based (free-access) journal that publishes both empirical and modeling articles. The first issue was published in November 2010.

University of Hertfordshire Cliodynamics Lab[edit]

The University of Hertfordshire's Cliodynamics Lab is the first lab in the world dedicated explicitly to the new research area of Cliodynamics. The Cliodynamics Lab is based at the University of Hertfordshire and is directed by Dr. Pieter François, who founded the Lab in 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Turchin Arise cliodynamics, 2008 Nature (3 July 2008)
  2. ^ Turchin P. 2003. Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Turchin P. 2005. War and Peace and War. Plume; Turchin P. 2009. A theory for formation of large states. Journal of Global History 4:191-217. Turchin P. 2011. Warfare and the Evolution of Social Complexity: A Multilevel-Selection Approach. Structure and Dynamics 4(3(1)):1-37
  3. ^ Goldstone J. 1991. Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World. Berkeley, California: University of California Press; Turchin P. 2003. Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Turchin P. 2005. War and Peace and War. Plume; Turchin P., Nefedov S. 2009. Secular Cycles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Korotayev, A., Malkov, A., & Khaltourina, D. 2006b. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00559-0; Korotayev, A. & Khaltourina D. 2006 /index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=165&Itemid=70 Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends in Africa. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00560-4.
  4. ^ Tsirel, S. V. 2004. On the Possible Reasons for the Hyperexponential Growth of the Earth Population. Mathematical Modeling of Social and Economic Dynamics / Ed. by M. G. Dmitriev and A. P. Petrov, pp. 367–9. Moscow: Russian State Social University, 2004; Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. 2006. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00414-4; Andrey Korotayev. The World System urbanization dynamics. History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies. Edited by Peter Turchin, Leonid Grinin, Andrey Korotayev, and Victor C. de Munck. Moscow: KomKniga, 2006. ISBN 5-484-01002-0. P. 44-62 etc.
  5. ^ Korotayev A., Zinkina J. Egyptian Revolution: A Demographic Structural Analysis. Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar 13 (2011): 139-169.


External links[edit]