Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering and Public Policy


Kathleen M. Carley


This thesis utilizes social influence theory and computational tools to examine the disparate impact of positive and negative ties in nuclear weapons proliferation. The thesis is broadly in two sections: a simulation section, which focuses on government stakeholders, and a large-scale data analysis section, which focuses on the public and domestic actor stakeholders. In the simulation section, it demonstrates that the nonproliferation norm is an emergent behavior from political alliance and hostility networks, and that alliances play a role in current day nuclear proliferation. This model is robust and contains second-order effects of extended hostility and alliance relations. In the large-scale data analysis section, the thesis demonstrates the role that context plays in sentiment evaluation and highlights how Twitter collection can provide useful input to policy processes. It first highlights the results of an on-campus study where users demonstrated that context plays a role in sentiment assessment. Then, in an analysis of a Twitter dataset of over 7.5 million messages, it assesses the role of ‘noise’ and biases in online data collection. In a deep dive analyzing the Iranian nuclear agreement, we demonstrate that the middle east is not facing a nuclear arms race, and show that there is a structural hole in online discussion surrounding nuclear proliferation. By combining both approaches, policy analysts have a complete and generalizable set of computational tools to assess and analyze disparate stakeholder roles in nuclear proliferation.

Available for download on Thursday, February 21, 2019