A Brief Introduction of Sequence Analysis

by Tim Liao, professor for sociology and statistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Description: Sequence analysis (SA) is a relatively new method that was first introduced into the social sciences three decades ago. Since then, it has seen many useful developments suitable for social scientific data analysts. SA is data intensive, with each case consisting of a sequence of many spells, each of which can exhibit one of many qualitative states. In this brief introduction, we begin by introducing some very simple sequence data, before summarizing the highlights of two papers by SA analysts, thereby showing how SA is conducted.

Tim Liao is Professor of Sociology & Professor of Statistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a 2017-2018 Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. At Illinois, he served as Head of the Department of Sociology 2004-2009 and is Director of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies (on leave in 2017-2018). He was Chair of the Methodology Section, the American Sociological Association (2009-2011). He edited Sage’s Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences series from 2004 to 2009, was Editor of Sociological Methodology (2009-2015), and is a Deputy Editor of Demography. He is currently engaged in bringing together two strands of his research interests—sequence analysis and inequality measurement—by developing a method for building and analyzing an individual’s inequality profiles over the life course and across generations.