Benoît de Courson

PhD student
Computer Science
Poverty, deviance, behavioral sciences, agent based models, applied mathematics
, updated on
14 November 2021
Institut Max Planck de criminologie, Freiburg-im-Breisgau

I’m a PhD student in social sciences, in the Max Planck Institute of Criminology of Freiburg, Germany.

Field of research

Before, I wavered between history, cognitive sciences and mathematics. Among other things, I have worked with Nicolas Baumard on a History of science project, where we tried to gather a database of Renaissance scientists with the Wikipedia categories tree structure.

After a few weeks spent filling an Excel document manually, I heard it was possible to automatise the process with programming. A very lazy person, I suddenly decided to learn the basics of the R language, and I wrote my first program. I thus put a foot in the digital humanities field, and discovered how much machines can save us time and create new possibilities. Later, and with more technical skills, I launched the development of the Gallicagram website with Benjamin Azoulay.

This app, analogous to Ngram Viewer, rests on the Gallica corpus, which is more reliable and controllable than Google Books. For instance, it allows to make a research in the local press of the Ain department, while Google only offers to search in huge corpora, of unknown content. I hope Gallicagram will furnish reliable data to a lot of social scientists, and thus save them a lot of painful hours.