Histoinformatics2014 LNCS Socinfo2014
In conjunction with the 6th International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo2014)

Next Workshop

HistoInformatics2016 is going to be held on July 11, 2016 in Krakow, Poland


HistoInformatics2014 - the 2nd International Workshop on Computational History will be held on November 10th in Barcelona, Spain in conjunction with the 6th International Conference on Social Informatics. It aims at fostering the interaction between Computer Science and Historical Science towards "Computational History". This interdisciplinary initiative is a response to the growing popularity of Digital Humanities, particularly in historical research, and an increased tendency to apply algorithms and computer techniques for fostering and facilitating new research methods and tools in Humanities.

History as a representation of the past has many functions. It helps to create meaning, coherence, and orientation individually and collectively and it aims to settle the foundations of our nations, our identities and our memories, to name a few. As such, it is one of the fundamental subjects taught from elementary schools onwards. Traditionally historical research is based on manual investigation of preserved records and artifacts to provide a reliable account of the past and verify different hypotheses. Alongside this hermeneutic approach historians have always translated primary sources into data and used statistics to analyze them. More recently, the field of Digital History has received attention with its aim to dematerialize patrimonial resources in order to explore them in the near future through the usage of automatic methods. This near future has already become a reality. Nowadays, due to the increasing activities in digitizing and opening historical sources, the field of History can greatly benefit from the advances of Computer and Information sciences which consist of processing, organizing and making sense of data and information. As such, new Computer Science techniques can be applied to help verify and validate historical assumptions based on text analytics, image interpretation or comparing multiple perspectives. Hence, Digital History has now entered a new era that we call HistoInformatics, analogous to Bioinformatics and ChemoInformatics which have respectively proposed new research trends in Biology and Chemistry.

Our objective is to provide for the two different research communities a place to meet and exchange ideas and to facilitate discussion. We hope the workshop will result in a survey of current problems and potential solutions, with particular focus on exploring opportunities for collaboration and interaction of researchers working on various subareas within Computer Science and History Sciences.

Themes and Topics

The main topics of the workshop are that of supporting historical research and analysis through the application of Computer Science theories or technologies, analyzing and making use of historical texts, recreating past course of actions, analyzing collective memories, visualizing historical data and providing efficient access to large wealth of historical knowledge. The detailed topics of expected paper submissions are (but not limited to):

  • Natural language processing and text analytics applied to historical documents
  • Analysis of longitudinal document collections
  • Search and retrieval in document archives and historical collections, associative search
  • Causal relationship discovery based on historical resources
  • Named entity recognition and disabmiguation
  • Entity relationship extraction, detecting and resolving historical references in text
  • Finding analogical entities over time
  • Computational linguistics for old texts
  • Analysis of language change over time
  • Digitizing and archiving
  • Modeling evolution of entities and relationships over time
  • Automatic multimedia document dating
  • Applications of Artificial Intelligence techniques to History
  • Simulating and recreating the past course of actions, social relations, motivations, figurations
  • Handling uncertain and fragmentary text and image data
  • Automatic biography generation
  • Mining Wikipedia for historical data
  • OCR and transcription old texts
  • Effective interfaces for searching, browsing or visualizing historical data collections
  • Studies on collective memory
  • Studying and modeling forgetting and remembering processes
  • Estimating credibility of historical findings
  • Probing the limits of Histoinformatics
  • Epistemologies in the Humanities and Computer Science

Paper Submission

Full paper submissions are limited to 10 pages, while short paper submissions should be less than 5 pages (including bibliography). Submissions should be sent in English in PDF via the submission website. They should be formatted according to Springer LNCS paper formatting guidelines. They must be original and have not been submitted for publication elsewhere. Submissions will be evaluated by at least three different reviewers who come from both Computer Science and History Science backgrounds. The review is single-blind meaning that authors names and affiliations are listed in the papers. The accepted papers will be published by Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS).

    Important Dates
  • Paper submission deadline: September 1, 2014 (23:59 Hawaii Standard Time)
  • Notification of acceptance: September 25, 2014
  • Camera ready copy deadline: October 3, 2014 (strict deadline)
  • Workshop date: Nov 10, 2014

Keynote Talk

Simulating the Past to understand the Present

Department of Prehistory
Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain)


History only runs once, but inside a computer a virtual model of the historical past would run infinite times. In the computer, we would explore (by altering the variables) the entire possible range of outcomes for different past behaviors. The idea is then simulating inside a computer what we know about actions having been performed in the past and experimenting with the effects they may produce in such a virtual world.
In this way, a computational simulation of societies having lived in the past would not be limited to the reproduction of individuals, economic acts or ancieny objects but a chronologically ordered sequence of changes and modifications acting over the consequence of former changes and modifications. That means that, inside a computer, the Past would be seen in the Present as a sequence of finite states of a temporal trajectory. Such a simulation would not "see" the past as it once was nut as potentialities for action, that is, explanations that can take place when it encounters a situation of some sort.
An important aspect of this way of understanding historical causality is that it forces the analysis to pay attention to the flux of ongoing activities, to focus on the unfolding of real activity in a real historical setting.
For this sort of cognitive task to work, the historian, as programmer, should know what precipitating conditions generate an increase in the probability of occurrence of an effect. Beyond a simple addition of individual random decisions, social activity should be defined in terms of social dispositions or capacities within a system of subjects, intentions, activities, actions and operations, some of them rational, others clearly indeterminate, impulsive or unconscious. The fact that the performance of some social action A, in circumstances T, has a probability P of causing a change Y in some entity N (social agent, community of social agents or the nature itself), is a property of the social action A.
The starting point of the explanation of historical dynamics by means of computer simulation is not the simulation of one particular system but the investigation of the mathematically possible development of specific classes of model systems (potentialities). This way of explaining what happened in the past requires the problem solver (human being or machine) to simulate in the present, perhaps in very sketchy terms, a mechanism, which, given the properties of the constituent components and of the environment, gives rise to the phenomena of interest. "Mechanisms are entities and activities organized such that they are productive of regular changes from start or set-up to finish or termination conditions". They describe the causal process underlying the activity to be explained and consequently translate a why-question into a what-is-it-for question. In this talk I review the very idea of mechanical explanation defining a mechanism as organized collections of entities and activities that produce regular changes. Under such an account of mechanism, I think we can build a new way of explaining what a social science should be. In so doing, I totally agree with the so called "analytical sociology" approach: the goal of a social scientist is to explain an empirical phenomenon by referring to a set of entities and processes (agents, action and interaction) that are spatially and temporally organized in such a way that they regularly bring about the type of phenomenon the social scientist seeks to explain.
In any case, the resulting model is just an hypothesis. It may be more explanatory than the same hypothesis expressed in verbal terms, but it is not yet an explanation. Truth is what the world is, and an artificial society is out of the world. So, we cannot search for validations within a simulated model. Any model needs to be fed by, but at the same time provides feedback to, two theoretical complements which must be formulated independent of the simulation itself: (a) a bottom-up theory of agent interaction (local rules), and of the process from them to social organization (macroscopic effects); (b) a theory of downward causation, showing how agent interaction is modified by the differentiation it contributes to achieve.


Associate Professor at the Department of Prehistory at the University Autónoma de Barcelona (Spain), teaching and doing research on statistical issues in archeology for 20 years. He is also founder and director of the Laboratory of Quantitative Archaeology and Computer Applications, and co-founder of the newly created Laboratory for the Computer Simulation of Social and Historical Dynamics, also at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain). He has been named President of the Spanish Association of Computer Applications in Archaeology, and represents Spain in the International Association on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology International Society, and Commission IV Data Management and Mathematics of the Union International for Prehistoric and Protohistoric sciences, Prof. Barceló has participated in numerous international committees for the evaluation of advanced research. As an internationally recognized researcher, he has specialized in the development of archaeological techniques and the theory of the discipline. He has developed methodological applications, especially in topics such as Spatial Analysis, Statistical Multidimensional Analysis, Computer Assisted Visualization and Artificial Intelligence, subjects on which he has published extensively. As an archaeologist, he has participated in excavations in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Syria, Nicaragua and Argentina. In 2012, the Spanish Society of Virtual Archaeology granted him the International Tartessos Virtual Archaeology Prize in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of this sub-discipline, especially when it refers to the development of its theoretical foundations.
More information can be found here

Accepted Papers

  • (Full) Learning to Identify Historical Figures for Timeline Creation from Wikipedia Articles
    Sandro Bauer, Stephen Clark and Thore Graepel (University of Cambridge and Microsoft Research Cambridge)
  • (Full) Mapping the Early Modern News Flow: an Enquiry by Robust Text Reuse Detection
    Giovanni Colavizza, Mario Infelise, and Frédéric Kaplan (EPFL and Ca' Foscari University of Venice)
  • (Full) Linking Historical Ship Records to a Newspaper Archive
    Andrea Bravo Balado, Victor de Boer and Guus Schreiber (VU University Amsterdam)
  • (Full) Digital Chronofiles of Life Experience
    Cathal Gurrin, Havard Johansen, Thomas Sodring and Dag Johansen (Dublin City University, UIT The Arctic University of Norway, Oslo University College)
  • (Short) Mapping Memory Landscapes in nodegoat
    Pim van Bree and Geert Kessels (LAB1100)
  • (Short) Mining Ministers (1572-1815). Using Semi-structured Data for Historical Research
    Serge Ter Braake, Antske Fokkens and Fred van Lieburg (VU University Amsterdam)
  • (Full) Laboratories of Community: how Digital Humanities can Further new European Integration History
    Mariona Coll Ardanuy, Maarten van den Bos and Caroline Sporleder (University of Trier, University of Utrecht)
  • (Full) The EHRI Project - Virtual Collections Revisited
    Mike Bryant, Linda Reijnhoudt, Reto Speck, Thibault Clerice and Tobias Blanke (King's College London, Data Archiving and Networked Services)
  • (Full) Developing Onomastic Gazetteers and Prosopographies for the Ancient World through Named Entity Recognition and Graph Visualization: Some Examples from Trismegistos People
    Yanne Broux and Mark Depauw (Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), KU Leuven)
  • (Short) Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) of Historical Documents as a Shared Task for Archivists, Computer Scientists and Humanities Scholars. The Model of a Transcription & Recognition Platform (TRP)
    Günter Mühlberger, Sebastian Colutto and Philip Kahle (University of Innsbruck)
  • (Short) Can Network Analysis Reveal Importance? Degree Centrality and Leaders in the EU Integration Process
    Marten Düring (CVCE)


[9:00 - 10:30] Welcome and Keynote

[10:30 - 11:00] ** Coffee Break **

[11:00 - 13:00] Session 1: Linking and Understanding Historical Data

  • (Full) Learning to Identify Historical Figures for Timeline Creation from Wikipedia Articles
  • (Full) Mapping the Early Modern News Flow: an Enquiry by Robust Text Reuse Detection
  • (Full) Linking Historical Ship Records to a Newspaper Archive
  • (Short) Can Network Analysis Reveal Importance? Degree Centrality and Leaders in the EU Integration Process
  • (Short) Mapping Memory Landscapes in nodegoat

[13:00 - 14:30] ** Lunch Break **

[14:30 - 15:30] Session 2: Managing and Organizing Historical Databases

  • (Full) The EHRI Project - Virtual Collections Revisited
  • (Full) Digital Chronofiles of Life Experience

[15:30 - 16:00] ** Coffee Break **

[16:00 - 17:30] Session 3: Text Analytics and Document Processing

  • (Full) Laboratories of Community: how Digital Humanities can Further new European Integration History
  • (Full) Developing Onomastic Gazetteers and Prosopographies for the Ancient World through Named Entity Recognition and Graph Visualization: Some Examples from Trismegistos People
  • (Short) Mining Ministers (1572-1815). Using Semi-structured Data for Historical Research
  • (Short) Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) of Historical Documents as a Shared Task for Archivists, Computer Scientists and Humanities Scholars. The Model of a Transcription & Recognition Platform (TRP)


  • Adam Jatowt (Kyoto University, Japan)
  • Gäel Dias (Normandie University, France)
  • Marten Düring (Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l'Europe (CVCE), Luxemburg)
  • Antal van Den Bosch (Center for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

PC Members:

  • Robert Allen (Yonsei University, South Korea)
  • Ching-man Au Yeung (Huawei Noah's Ark Lab, Hong Kong)
  • Frederick Clavert (Paris Sorbonne University, France)
  • Antoine Doucet (Normandie University, France)
  • Roger Evans (University of Brighton, United Kingdom)
  • Pedro Rangel Henriques (Minho University, Portugal))
  • Christian Gudehus (University of Flensburg, Germany)
  • Pim Huijnen (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
  • Nattiya Kanhabua (LS3 Research Center, Germany)
  • Tom Kenter (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Mike Kestemont (University of Antwerp, Belgium)
  • Adam Kosto (Columbia University, USA)
  • Günter Mühlberger (University of Innsbruck, Austria)
  • Andrea Nanetti (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
  • Daan Odijk (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Marc Spaniol (Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Germany)
  • Shigeo Sugimoto (University of Tsukuba, Japan)
  • Nina Tahmasebi (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
  • Lars Wieneke (Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l'Europe (CVCE), Luxemburg)


Emailadam [at] dl [dot] kuis [dot] kyoto-u [dot] ac [dot] jp