Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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This collection contains digitized SFU theses except for those theses submitted within the last 12 months. If you cannot find the thesis you are looking for please search Recently Submitted Theses as it may be a recently submitted thesis and thus not yet available in Summit.

Essays in economic prehistory

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-16
Abstract: 

This thesis consists of three papers that explore early human organization. In the first paper I argue that the economic and social structure of early humans would have resulted in an especially difficult consanguinity problem. In particular, adverse selection in the exogamous marriage market would have resulted in high levels of consanguinity and resulting fitness depression. A partial solution to this problem was the evolution of aversion to endogamy, known as the Westermarck effect, and was essential for the survival of our species. The second paper (joint with Haiyun Chen) develops a model that explains linguistic diversity as the cumulative result of strategic incentives faced by linguistic groups. In this model, autonomous groups interact periodically in games that represent either cooperation, competition, or a lack of interaction. Common language facilitates cooperation such as trade, whereas language unique to one group affords that group an advantage in competitive interactions. The relative frequency of cooperation and conflict in a region provides incentives for each group to modify their own language, and therefore leads to changes in linguistic diversity over time. Our model predicts that higher frequency of conflict relative to cooperation will increase a region's linguistic diversity. The third paper (joint with Gregory K. Dow and Clyde G. Reed) investigates the incidence of early warfare among foragers and farmers in prehistory. Our focus is specifically on conflict over land. Food is produced using inputs of labor and land, and the probability of victory in a conflict depends on relative group sizes. The group sizes are determined by individual migration and Malthusian population dynamics. Both factors result in larger populations at better sites, which deters attack. There are two necessary conditions for warfare: high enough individual mobility costs and large enough shocks to the relative productivities of the sites. Together, these conditions are sufficient. In particular, technological or environmental shocks that alter the productivities of sites can trigger warfare, but only if individual agents do not change sites in response. These results are consistent with evidence from archaeology and anthropology.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Arthur Robson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Economics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Post-selection inference

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-21
Abstract: 

Forward Stepwise Selection is a widely used model selection algorithm. It is, however, hard to do inference for a model that is already cherry-picked. A post-selection inference method called selective inference is investigated. Beginning with very simple examples and working towards more complex ones, we evaluate the method's performance in terms of its power and coverage probability though a simulation study. The target of inference is investigated and the impact of the amount of information used to construct conditional conference intervals is investigated. To achieve the same level of coverage probability, the more conditions we use, the wider the Confidence Interval is -- the effect can be extreme. Moreover, we investigate the impact of multiple conditioning, as well as the importance of the normality assumption on which the underlying theory is based. For models with not very many parameters (p << n), we find normality is not crucial in terms of the test coverage probability.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Lockhart
Department: 
Science: Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Design and in pandemic validation of correlation visualisation for sleep data analytics

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-06-17
Abstract: 

Sleep plays an important role in the overall health and well-being of a child. The relationship between sleep and daytime behaviours of children with sleep disorders is understood poorly; different aspects of a child’s routine may interact with each other to contribute to sleep disorders. To diagnose, monitor and successfully treat many medical conditions pertaining to sleep, it becomes imperative to analyse the many aspects of a child’s daytime and sleep behaviours. We built a visual analytic tool for studying the correlation between different variables pertaining to the daily life of the child. The tool allows clinicians to explore how the different aspects of a child’s behaviour and activities affect their sleep and overall well-being. This tool is developed as an extension of an existing tool SWAPP, which allows caregivers and clinicians to log and monitor the child’s everyday data. Later, we performed a remote usability study on the tool to demonstrate the efficacy of the tool. Finally, we generated actionable guidelines for improving the tool from the results of the study.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Chris Shaw
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Blanket Creek Provincial Park weedy field restoration plan

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-05-21
Abstract: 

A key management concern for provincial parks is the establishment of invasive species due to their impacts on native biodiversity. Within Blanket Creek Provincial Park there is a 0.24 ha heavily invaded field dominated by hawkweed species and spotted knapweed which developed after a series of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Restoration actions are required to renew the ecological process of natural succession and shift the vegetation community from its current state to one dominated by native species. The aim of this project was to determine the current site conditions which will inform a restoration plan for the site and act as baseline conditions for future monitoring. This site assessment focused on the characterization of the vegetation and soil conditions. Restoration recommendations focus on promoting the development of a deciduous forest characteristic of the Interior Cedar-Hemlock biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification zone. The restoration recommendations include invasive species management, decompaction, fertilization, mulching, and the planting of native trees and shrubs.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ruth Joy
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

United States bank migrations and deposit dollar concentrations

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-06-21
Abstract: 

This thesis incorporates four studies of the geography of bank offices and deposits in the United States (US). The research examines changes in retail bank branch proximity in neighborhoods, state banking law's role in motivating banks to relocate home offices, and the significance of tax avoidance driving deposits’ relocations. Chapter 1 introduces the framework and research questions that emerged from visually exploring geo-spatial banking data. Chapter 2 considers retail bank proximity changes in neighborhoods, classified by income, in urban Florida. It compares three pre- and post-financial crisis bank branch distributions: those merged with government assistance, those that merged unassisted, and those that did not merge. Did the branching decisions made by any of these bank groups disproportionately affect neighborhoods’ proximity to banks? Kruskal–Wallis and post hoc tests suggest that merged banks, which reduced total branches, did not disproportionately impact any neighborhood group. Statistically significant evidence suggests that unmerged banks, which increased total branches, disproportionately improved proximity to high-income areas, filling a spatial void created by closed offices of merged banks. The results suggest that banking regulators indirectly financed the rearrangement of banking offices, conflicting with federal policies aimed at maintaining bank offices near low-income neighborhoods. Chapter 3 examines the forces that drove a massive accumulation of deposits in Delaware and South Dakota, illuminating changes in banking regulation that lured banks from faraway places. Delaware and South Dakota broke longstanding public policy norms by creating bank-friendly regulation of three banking businesses: credit, insurance, and trusts, becoming a preferred legal “home office” for banks seeking regulatory relief. Chapter 4 traces the laws that helped induce Wall Street banks and other commercial firms to migrate to Utah. Utah expanded the scope of a historical anomaly in US banking regulation, the Industrial Loan Bank, which is exempt from longstanding regulatory norms separating banking from a non-banking business. The final chapter considers the lopsided share of deposits in Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota, and Utah after the flight of deposits from high-tax states. This research contributes to and suggests research possibilities on the oft-neglected subject of fiscal geography.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Geoff Mann
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Towards a better future: How Engage Books creates books that make a difference

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-27
Abstract: 

This report looks at the changing landscape of Engage Books as they switch their focus from publishing classic titles to publishing children’s books under the mandate ‘books that make a difference,’ and the tactics they are implementing to push boundaries within the children’s publishing industry. To provide context as to where Engage Books stands as an independent children’s publisher, the report gives a brief overview of the history of the acceptability of sensitive topics in children's literature and the relationship between censorship and small presses. Engage Books has adopted the philosophy that it is easier to shape the minds of children than it is to change the minds of those who are already set in their ways, and thus, has begun introducing previously censored information and major world crises to children in an attempt to help the next generation become informed and engaged citizens who can help create a better society.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Scott Steedman
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: Publishing Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Pub.

Experimental methodology and its applications in economics

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-03-24
Abstract: 

This dissertation explores and applies experimental methods in economics. The first two chapters deal with the methodology of lab experiments, while the third presents a study on mobility apps. In the first chapter, I examine deliberating groups in a jury-like setting where subjects have private information and an opportunity to discuss it before a vote. The study uses a belief elicitation mechanism to incentivize subjects to truthfully report their beliefs both before and after they deliberate, allowing for the measurement of the change in beliefs. I find that deliberation tends to reduce the average error in beliefs, measured as the difference between the belief and the true outcome. The basic experiment follows past deliberation experiments in the literature. It features an abstract setting with private signals in the form of a randomly drawn red or blue ball. To test whether the results are generalizable, I replicated this experiment in a framed setting where subjects read the evidence from a real murder trial. I found no difference between the results of the experiments in these two different settings. The second chapter investigates the use of reinforcement methods in lab experiment instructions. We experimentally compare how methods of delivering and reinforcing experiment instructions impact subjects' comprehension and retention of payoff-relevant information. We find combinations of reinforcement methods that can eliminate half of non money-maximizing behaviour, and we find that we can induce a similar reduction via enhancements to the content of instructions. Residual non money-maximizing behaviour suggests this may be an important source of noise in experimental studies. The third chapter diverges from lab experiments to study Mobility as a Service (MaaS). We test whether a multimodal route-planning service caused users to use combined routes featuring both ride hailing and transit. We find that ride-hailing trips connected with rail stops increased from 3.0% of trips to 5.5% among existing users. In areas where the feature supported bus connections, trips connecting to bus stops increased from 4.6% to 8.7% among existing users.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David Freeman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Economics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Automating data preparation with statistical analysis

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-03-18
Abstract: 

Data preparation is the process of transforming raw data into a clean and consumable format. It is widely known as the bottleneck to extract value and insights from data, due to the number of possible tasks in the pipeline and factors that can largely affect the results, such as human expertise, application scenarios, and solution methodology. Researchers and practitioners devised a great variety of techniques and tools over the decades, while many of them still place a significant burden on human’s side to configure the suitable input rules and parameters. In this thesis, with the goal of reducing human manual effort, we explore using the power of statistical analysis techniques to automate three subtasks in the data preparation pipeline: data enrichment, error detection, and entity matching. Statistical analysis is the process of discovering underlying patterns and trends from data and deducing properties of an underlying distribution of probability from a sample, for example, testing hypotheses and deriving estimates. We first discuss CrawlEnrich, which automatically figures out the queries for data enrichment via web API data, by estimating the potential benefit of issuing a certain query. Then we study how to derive reusable error detection configuration rules from a web table corpus, so that end-users get results with no efforts. Finally, we introduce AutoML-EM, aiming to automate the entity matching model development process. Entity matching is to find the identical entities in real-world. Our work provides powerful angles to automate the process of various data preparation steps, and we conclude this thesis by discussing future directions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jiannan Wang
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Computing Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Bakhtin’s philosophy for education: Pedagogy of aesthetics and dialogism

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-03-08
Abstract: 

This thesis is an attempt to analyze the philosophical ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin from the point of view of their possible implementation in educational practices. The first chapter examines the philosophy of Bakhtin's aesthetics, which postulate that the perception of the surrounding world is possible through non-rational methods of phenomenological and hermeneutic reflections. Particular attention is paid to Bakhtin’s understanding of the process of cognition, where a human is presented in his/her holistic subjective being. According to Bakhtin, this idea permits the usage of subjective cognitive processes in objective reality only through an individually responsible act. The second chapter deals with the possible implementation of the Bakhtinan dialogic philosophy in the theory of knowledge. An attempt is made to trace the understanding of the essence of dialogism from the phenomenological premise that any consciousness is a text that includes the cognizer in a situation of aesthetic understanding and, as the result of such participatory thinking, triggers the mechanism of an internal dialogue. The balancing correlation between the idea of “dialogic” and the idea of “answerability” as part of the general life experience is also explored. The third chapter examines Bakhtin’s architectonics as a specific strategic tool, which allows for optimizing and effectively carrying out the many interrelationships of the participating in many educational processes. Additionally, Bakhtin’s concepts of chronotope and nonalibi in existence are considered as categories of theoretical cognition and phenomena that can help better comprehend the truth, especially in post-modern educational conditions. Together with Bakhtin's ideas, the ideas of cognition specific to the neo-Kantian, primarily German, philosophical schools, are explored as well as their influence on Bakhtin and his followers. I also include some memories from my own teaching experience, which I collected for over 25 years of teaching foreign languages from K-12 to the university level.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Natalia Gajdamaschko
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

An efficient approach to pruning regression trees using a modified Bayesian information criterion

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-14
Abstract: 

By identifying relationships between regression tree construction and change-point detection, we show that it is possible to prune a regression tree efficiently using properly modified information criteria. We prove that one of the proposed pruning approaches that uses a modified Bayesian information criterion consistently recovers the true tree structure provided that the true regression function can be represented as a subtree of a full tree. In practice, we obtain simplified trees that can have prediction accuracy comparable to trees obtained using standard cost-complexity pruning. We briefly discuss an extension to random forests that prunes trees adaptively in order to prevent excessive variance, building upon the work of other authors.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Thomas Loughin
Department: 
Science: Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.