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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.

Deterministic learning of DNF

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-10
Abstract: 

Our main result is a deterministic learning algorithm with membership queries that learns a disjunctive normal form (DNF) with a polynomial number of terms within an additive approximation error in quasi polynomial time n^{O(logn)}. With random examples under the uniform distribution, the learning algorithm of [LMN93] for DNFs runs in time n^{O(log^2(n))}. Our approach is to consider the Fourier expansion of the target DNF and approximate the heavy Fourier coefficients. Our hypothesis is the sign of the sparse polynomial that is defined with the approximated coefficients. We present two approaches for building our sparse polynomial approximating the target DNF. First, we use Gopalan and Meka’s [GMR13] PRG to deterministically approximate small degree coefficients of our target DNF. Second, we generalize the result of [DETT10] to show that a general DNF can be fooled by a small biased set to approximate coefficients of any degree. We show that under the assumption that there exists an ideal PRG with a logarithmic seed length for general DNFs, we can derandomize the Goldreich and Levin algorithm to find all small degree coefficients with large absolute values. Therefore, under the ideal PRG assumption, there exists a deterministic learning algorithm for DNFs that runs in the same time as [Man92], n^{O(loglogn)}.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Valentine Kabanets
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Computing Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Hotspots in the marine realm: The where and why of shark and ray biodiversity

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-04
Abstract: 

Understanding the spatial distribution patterns of species is critical for determining the mechanisms behind marine biodiversity and appropriating conservation efforts. I used the distribution maps of all known marine species in the class Chondrichthyes to explore the degree of spatial congruency across three measures of species richness hotspot, as well as their threatened counterparts. Overall, spatial congruency was low, suggesting that conservation attention should not focus solely on areas of high species richness. I then investigated the abiotic and biotic drivers of global species richness. Sea surface temperature, productivity, and oceanic upwellings were some of the strongest abiotic predictors for richness. Areas of high richness also comprised many small ranging, younger species, indicative of species diversification occurring in the tropics. This work predominantly highlights the importance of considering which measure of richness we use when approaching conservation and advances our understanding of the biogeography of sharks and rays in the marine realm.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Nick Dulvy
Department: 
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Trust in neoliberal times: A genealogy

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-15
Abstract: 

There is a crisis of trust in the neoliberal world. Is trust ending, or have we learned to trust in new ways? This thesis conducts an historical genealogy of trust practices across the early modern era, classical liberalism, the welfare state, and neoliberalism. This genealogy reveals that neoliberal trust practices are neither natural nor determined, and that we can inform how we trust in light of our past. This investigation finds that the neoliberal self has little capacity for trust beyond the present moment. Neoliberal trust practices, including auditing, skill learning, risk management, and emotional reasoning, are placed on the market, an unpredictable and erratic force that compels individuals to seek stability and security in isolation from others rather than with others. These attempts to gain security, however, tend to slide towards suspicion, distrust, and alienation. Three ethical implications are discussed regarding the impact of neoliberal trust practices on the therapeutic relationship.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeff Sugarman
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Exposing the corporate myth: A re-thinking of the legal conception of corporate personhood

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-09-30
Abstract: 

This thesis provides a critical view of the way the Supreme Court of Canada (the “SCC”) has applied rights and freedoms under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) to corporations. I argue that a close reading of SCC cases involving corporations seeking protections under the Charter reveals that the SCC is bound by a conception of corporate personhood that binds judicial decision-making. This result seems to stem from the SCC’s unconscious use of language that is consistent with Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. This results in a slavish commitment to revealing the truth of corporations and applying the Charter accordingly. In place of this, I argue that Wittgenstein’s subsequent approach to language in the Philosophical Investigations helps reveal that corporations are not objects with internal states of affairs; rather, “corporation persons” is just another language game. Seeing language this way helps do away with a commitment to truth about corporations and frees the SCC to see them as economic tools that are subject to our control.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Samir Gandesha
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of Humanities
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Narrative syncope: Affect, ethics, and fainting men in late-Victorian novels

Date created: 
2020-12-11
Abstract: 

This project investigates the significance of fainting men in late-Victorian novels. While fainting is supposedly a female phenomenon related to women’s fragility and emotional vulnerability, a large number of men swoon in Victorian novels. Fainting's form in these novels at the end of the century, I argue, reflects the emergence of materialist ideas about the brain and the nervous system’s importance to human consciousness and subjectivity. Fainting is a physiologically affective response, one that reveals the nonconscious, automatist, and animal part of every human—including men. Swooning in novels creates what I am calling narrative syncope. As a term, syncope is used across multiple discourses. In medicine, it refers to a loss of consciousness, and in grammar and music, it defines a gap, bridge, elision, or dysrhythmia. Through narrative syncope, late-Victorian novels engage not just the representation of fainting but also its novel form. That is, fainting’s affective and nonhuman character mirrors what we might call the affect of narrative form, including temporal disjunctions, shifting narrative perspectives, and gaps in linguistic meaning. While fainting men appear across Victorian literary genres and beyond, my focus in this dissertation is on three late-century novels: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Each of the fainting men (and sometimes women) in these novels is struggling with the (im)possibilities of self-representation, as novelistic form turns from realist narration and towards an alienated and fragmented literary style. These men are, as Jacques Derrida would call them, autobiographical animals, whose nonhuman bodies and narratives both subvert and create the conditions for their subjectivity. Furthermore, as the nineteenth century struggled with the moral implications of materialism and Darwinism, these late-century novels offer a way to understand ethics as an embodied imperative. That is, affectively nonhuman bodies and narratives challenge the moral status of humans, while at the same time suggesting a greater ethical demand that emerges from the uncertain species status of the body. In exploring affective ethics in these novels, I follow Derrida’s conception of ethics as an impossible demand.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Margaret Linley
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The “I” in ICATs: A closer examination of interagency case assessment teams in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-07
Abstract: 

Integrated case assessment teams (ICATs) are a consortium of local agencies that respond to highest risk domestic violence cases using a collaborative approach. The underlying principle of ICATs is the belief that with coordinated intervention, injury or death resulting from domestic violence is predictable and preventable. This exploratory study examines the knowledge and experience of ICATs in British Columbia to better understand the role, functioning, and impact of ICATs in combating domestic violence. The results provide insight as to (i) the who and how of ICATs; (ii) the benefits and challenges to interagency collaboration; and (iii) potential qualitative indicators of success to measure the effectiveness of ICATs. The turnover and burnout of ICAT membership are briefly examined, followed by a discussion comprised of the recommendations from ICAT members on how the overall functioning of ICATs could be improved. Recommendations included training and peer mentoring; increased hours; coordinator positions; and the centralization of data and community education and outreach. Implications of the findings and future directions are also discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Bryan Kinney
Sheri Fabian
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Arduous business: Immaterial labour in the Victorian realist novel

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-04
Abstract: 

Arduous Business explores representations of immaterial labour in the Victorian realist novel. By “immaterial labour,” I mean labour that has economic and social value, but that does not fall within countable hours or produce tangible goods. The category includes the mysteriously profitable stock-broking of Anthony Trollope’s speculator villains, and the doomed scholarship of Thomas Hardy’s working-class philosopher, Jude Fawley. More central to the project, though, and ubiquitous in the Victorian novel, is the unwaged emotional labour of women: the coaxing, communicating, caring, and sympathizing through which societies—and, indeed, economies—cohere. From dominant nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century perspectives, these activities count only ambiguously as “work,” yet critical economists from Marx onward have noted that economic production depends on the material and ideological reproduction of workers, a task historically associated with the feminized domestic sphere. I argue that realist novels are uniquely equipped to demonstrate the economic importance of feminized immaterial labour, and the effects of industrial capitalism on the intimate processes of thinking and feeling that labour contains. Methodologically and thematically, novels resist the strategies of abstraction on which the contemporaneous discourse of political economy relied, instead engaging economic phenomena dialectically, forging dynamic theories of labour and value that connect parts to wholes, people to systems, and systems to history. By situating work in its manifold contexts, the novels I examine reveal immanent meanings of the shift to capitalism, including the insidious but consequential exploitation of caring and communicative labour, and the limitations of a historically specific, liberal form of subjectivity. Chapter one (on Gaskell’s Mary Barton) and two (on Eliot’s Romola) analyze critical responses to the appropriation of women’s immaterial labour. Chapter three argues that Trollope’s Palliser novels unfreeze reified notions of social and economic value, presenting value instead as an uncontainable relationship between people. Chapter four shows how Hardy’s reverse-Bildungsroman, Jude the Obscure, confronts liberal progressivism with its failure to resolve the antagonisms of class, gender, and sex, thereby revealing the false ground of a promised reconciliation between individuals and society.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Carolyn Lesjak
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Climate change and glacier retreat in salmon watersheds

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-09
Abstract: 

Global air temperatures are projected to rise over the next century following the continued increase and amplification of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly due to human activity. This rise in air temperature will pose significant changes to the landscape, most notably glacier retreat. Salmon watersheds beheaded by glaciers will undergo drastic changes as ice melts from the landscape changing downstream river flow, water temperature, and channel morphology, and shifting nutrients and availability of prey resources. Broadly, my thesis provides insight on how the effects of climate change, particularly from glacier retreat, may present challenges and benefits to Pacific salmon. In chapter 2, I explore the ways in which glacier retreat impacts salmon habitat by reviewing and constructing a conceptual model that defines glacier retreat across four distinct phases, from a landscape blanketed by ice to complete deglaciation. I describe each of these pathways of impact and how they will affect Pacific salmon across the four phases. In chapter 3, I quantify how much new Pacific salmon habitat will be created by glacier retreat over the next century. I found that glacier retreat will create hot spots of future habitat gains within glacierized regions of western North America, while other areas will experience no habitat gain. In my fourth chapter, I assessed how water temperatures along an important Pacific salmon migratory river are associated with landscape features of tributary systems. I placed temperature loggers at all major tributary rivers and determined how they play a role in cooling a major salmon migratory corridor. Glacier and snowpack fed tributaries from larger watersheds cooled a major salmon migratory river more than other tributaries. Collectively, this thesis provides insight into how climate change and glacier retreat impact river systems and their salmon. This work illuminates the need for forward-looking conservation and management to aid in the protection and preservation of important and iconic species, such as Pacific salmon.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jonathan W. Moore
Department: 
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

“Obscenity has fallen to the wayside”: The decline of the obscenity provisions amongst law enforcement professionals in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-10-23
Abstract: 

Since the landmark Butler case in 1992, obscenity, or more specifically adult pornography, has “fallen to the wayside,” in terms of legal consideration. Recent legal consideration has focused primarily on child pornography, and internet-based pornography, in a post-Butler era. Consequentially, the criminal justice system has experienced a shift in priorities; since Butler, only child-related obscene materials are subjected to criminal justice system scrutiny. This study explores the experiences of criminal justice system personnel to learn about shifts in law enforcement priorities since the enactment of the child pornography provision in 1993 and the role of the internet in this shift in priorities. I conducted 16 qualitative semi-structured interviews with criminal justice system personnel, guided by a feminist lens. Participants included current and retired members of the police (municipal and RCMP), Crown counsel, and defence lawyers; five participants had been involved in major court decisions of obscenity and child pornography (Little Sisters, 2000; R. v. Butler, 1992; R. v. Klassen, 2012; R. v. Neil, 2015; R. v. Sharpe, 2001). Analysis revealed a changing definition of obscenity, that material which historically would not have been tolerated for consumption, was now tolerated by the general community. More importantly, the perception emerged that obscenity was readily accessible via the internet, and no longer viewed as a priority for the criminal justice system. Participants identified the internet as a game changer; the availability and accessibility of child pornography online flooded the criminal justice system with depictions of the sexual abuse of real children that necessitated a priority response. As such, the focus and emphasis from the criminal justice system shifted away from violence against women and children, supported in Butler (1992), to child pornography, particularly that which features the sexual abuse of children. This shift in priorities resulted in a decline in law enforcement focus on obscene material, ultimately letting obscenity fall to the wayside. This research concludes with policy recommendations, including educating parents and children early about the issues with obscenity.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David MacAlister
Sheri Fabian
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Gender stereotypes in virtual agents

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-08
Abstract: 

Visual, behavioural and verbal cues for gender are often used in designing virtual agents to take advantage of their cultural and stereotypical effects on the users. However, recent studies point towards a more gender-balanced view of stereotypical traits and roles in our society. This thesis is intended as an effort towards a progressive and inclusive approach for gender representations in virtual agents. The contributions are two-fold. First, in an iterative design process, representative male, female and androgynous embodied AI agents were created with few differences in their visual attributes. Second, these agents were then used to evaluate the stereotypical assumptions of gendered traits and roles in AI virtual agents. The results showed that, indeed, gender stereotypes are not as effective as previously assumed, and androgynous agents could represent a middle-ground between gendered stereotypes. The thesis findings are presented in the hope to foster discussions in virtual agent research and the frequent stereotypical use of gender representations.

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