Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Aaron Clauset

Second Advisor

James Martin

Third Advisor

Michael Mozer

Fourth Advisor

Vanja Dukic

Fifth Advisor

Winter Mason


Competition is ubiquitous in complex social systems, from informal online gaming environments to professional sports, to workers competing for jobs in the labor market. Given its universality, understanding the complex relationships between a competition's dynamics, competitor behavior, and environmental structure is of great interest to the scientific community and society at large. In this thesis, we analyze the structure of and behav- ioral dynamics in three different competitive social systems: a massive online game, four professional sports, and a network of occupations. Our results shed new light on how a competition's environment can predict its dynamics, what types of temporal and pro-social behaviors are indicative of friendship between competitors, how those friendships evolve over time, and how the structural properties of an occupation network inform career path decisions and forecast the long term distribution of incomes in an economy.