James E. Doran (Malmesbury, UK 1940 - )

British computer scientist, throughout his career he has explored the use of mathematical and computer methods in the social sciences, primarily Archaeology and Anthropology. He has a particular interest in agent-based social modelling in an archaeological context.

He read Mathematics and Statistics at Hertford College, Oxford and became a specialist in Artificial Intelligence studies at the University of Edinburgh in the mid 1960s. After four years at the UK Atlas Computer Laboratory, in 1973 he moved to the University of Essex in the Department of Computer Science, where he has been Professor Emeritus since 2001.

Early on in the 1960s-70s, in collaboration with the archaeologist F. Roy Hodson, he promoted in the UK and beyond the application of statistics and data analysis in archaeology and in 1975 they published the pioneering book “Mathematics and Computers in Archaeology”. Doran’s archaeologically oriented research has been mainly in the analysis of the relationship of formal methods with archaeological theory, suggesting and illustrating ways in which particular concepts and methods deriving from computer science and artificial intelligence research (e.g. non-metric scaling and expert systems) can contribute to the formulation and practical application of archaeological theory.

More recently he has made important contributions in the archaeological application of agent-based computer simulations (notably in the EOS project, a collaboration with the archaeologist Paul Mellars and others), which he considers helpful to building new theory, guiding the evaluation of alternative theories, and illuminating one of the major issues of the social sciences: how complex social phenomena can emerge from individual action.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, and a member of the SimSoc Consortium, which since 1998 publishes the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS), an electronic interdisciplinary journal for the exploration and understanding of social processes by means of agent-based computer simulation.