The quantification and visualisation of human flourishing.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Economic indicators such as GDP have been a main indicator of human progress since the first half of last century. There is concern that continuing to measure our progress and / or wellbeing using measures that encourage consumption on a planet with limited resources, may not be ideal.
Alternative measures of human progress, have a top down approach where the creators decide what the measure will contain.
This work defines a 'bottom up' methodology an example of measuring human progress that doesn't require manual data reduction. The technique allows visual overlay of other 'factors' that users may feel are particularly important.
I designed and wrote a genetic algorithm, which, in conjunction with regression analysis, was used to select the 'most important' variables from a large range of variables loosely associated with the topic. This approach could be applied in many areas where there are a lot of data from which an analyst must choose.
Next I designed and wrote a genetic algorithm to explore the evolution of a spectral clustering solution over time. Additionally, I designed and wrote a genetic algorithm with a multi-faceted fitness function which I used to select the most appropriate clustering procedure from a range of hierarchical agglomerative methods. Evolving the algorithm over time was not successful in this instance, but the approach holds a lot of promise as an alternative to 'scoring' new data based on an original solution, and as a method for using alternate procedural options to those an analyst might normally select.
The final solution allowed an evolution of the number of clusters with a fixed clustering method and variable selection over time. Profiling with various external data sources gave consistent and interesting interpretations to the clusters.