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THE NONLOCAL NEUMANN PROBLEM
(2023)

Instead of presuming only local interaction, we assume nonlocal interactions. By doing so, mass
at a point in space does not only interact with an arbitrarily small neighborhood surrounding it,
but it can also interact with mass somewhere far, far away. Thus, mass jumping from one point to
another is also a possibility we can consider in our models. So, if we consider a region in space, this
region interacts in a local model at most with its closure. While in a nonlocal model this region may
interact with the whole space. Therefore, in the formulation of nonlocal boundary value problems
the enforcement of boundary conditions on the topological boundary may not suffice. Furthermore,
choosing the complement as nonlocal boundary may work for Dirichlet boundary conditions, but
in the case of Neumann boundary conditions this may lead to an overfitted model.
In this thesis, we introduce a nonlocal boundary and study the well-posedness of a nonlocal Neu-
mann problem. We present sufficient assumptions which guarantee the existence of a weak solution.
As in a local model our weak formulation is derived from an integration by parts formula. However,
we also study a different weak formulation where the nonlocal boundary conditions are incorporated
into the nonlocal diffusion-convection operator.
After studying the well-posedness of our nonlocal Neumann problem, we consider some applications
of this problem. For example, we take a look at a system of coupled Neumann problems and analyze
the difference between a local coupled Neumann problems and a nonlocal one. Furthermore, we let
our Neumann problem be the state equation of an optimal control problem which we then study. We
also add a time component to our Neumann problem and analyze this nonlocal parabolic evolution
equation.
As mentioned before, in a local model mass at a point in space only interacts with an arbitrarily
small neighborhood surrounding it. We analyze what happens if we consider a family of nonlocal
models where the interaction shrinks so that, in limit, mass at a point in space only interacts with
an arbitrarily small neighborhood surrounding it.

Survey data can be viewed as incomplete or partially missing from a variety of perspectives and there are different ways of dealing with this kind of data in the prediction and the estimation of economic quantities. In this thesis, we present two selected research contexts in which the prediction or estimation of economic quantities is examined under incomplete survey data.
These contexts are first the investigation of composite estimators in the German Microcensus (Chapters 3 and 4) and second extensions of multivariate Fay-Herriot (MFH) models (Chapters 5 and 6), which are applied to small area problems.
Composite estimators are estimation methods that take into account the sample overlap in rotating panel surveys such as the German Microcensus in order to stabilise the estimation of the statistics of interest (e.g. employment statistics). Due to the partial sample overlaps, information from previous samples is only available for some of the respondents, so the data are partially missing.
MFH models are model-based estimation methods that work with aggregated survey data in order to obtain more precise estimation results for small area problems compared to classical estimation methods. In these models, several variables of interest are modelled simultaneously. The survey estimates of these variables, which are used as input in the MFH models, are often partially missing. If the domains of interest are not explicitly accounted for in a sampling design, the sizes of the samples allocated to them can, by chance, be small. As a result, it can happen that either no estimates can be calculated at all or that the estimated values are not published by statistical offices because their variances are too large.

Coastal erosion describes the displacement of land caused by destructive sea waves,
currents or tides. Due to the global climate change and associated phenomena such as
melting polar ice caps and changing current patterns of the oceans, which result in rising
sea levels or increased current velocities, the need for countermeasures is continuously
increasing. Today, major efforts have been made to mitigate these effects using groins,
breakwaters and various other structures.
This thesis will find a novel approach to address this problem by applying shape optimization
on the obstacles. Due to this reason, results of this thesis always contain the
following three distinct aspects:
The selected wave propagation model, i.e. the modeling of wave propagation towards
the coastline, using various wave formulations, ranging from steady to unsteady descriptions,
described from the Lagrangian or Eulerian viewpoint with all its specialties. More
precisely, in the Eulerian setting is first a steady Helmholtz equation in the form of a
scattering problem investigated and followed subsequently by shallow water equations,
in classical form, equipped with porosity, sediment portability and further subtleties.
Secondly, in a Lagrangian framework the Lagrangian shallow water equations form the
center of interest.
The chosen discretization, i.e. dependent on the nature and peculiarity of the constraining
partial differential equation, we choose between finite elements in conjunction
with a continuous Galerkin and discontinuous Galerkin method for investigations in the
Eulerian description. In addition, the Lagrangian viewpoint offers itself for mesh-free,
particle-based discretizations, where smoothed particle hydrodynamics are used.
The method for shape optimization w.r.t. the obstacle’s shape over an appropriate
cost function, constrained by the solution of the selected wave-propagation model. In
this sense, we rely on a differentiate-then-discretize approach for free-form shape optimization
in the Eulerian set-up, and reverse the order in Lagrangian computations.

Behavioural traces from interactions with digital technologies are diverse and abundant. Yet, their capacity for theory-driven research is still to be constituted. In the present cumulative dissertation project, I deliberate the caveats and potentials of digital behavioural trace data in behavioural and social science research. One use case is online radicalisation research. The three studies included, set out to discern the state-of-the-art of methods and constructs employed in radicalization research, at the intersection of traditional methods and digital behavioural trace data. Firstly, I display, based on a systematic literature review of empirical work, the prevalence of digital behavioural trace data across different research strands and discern determinants and outcomes of radicalisation constructs. Secondly, I extract, based on this literature review, hypotheses and constructs and integrate them to a framework from network theory. This graph of hypotheses, in turn, makes the relative importance of theoretical considerations explicit. One implication of visualising the assumptions in the field is to systematise bottlenecks for the analysis of digital behavioural trace data and to provide the grounds for the genesis of new hypotheses. Thirdly, I provide a proof-of-concept for incorporating a theoretical framework from conspiracy theory research (as a specific form of radicalisation) and digital behavioural traces. I argue for marrying theoretical assumptions derived from temporal signals of posting behaviour and semantic meaning from textual content that rests on a framework from evolutionary psychology. In the light of these findings, I conclude by discussing important potential biases at different stages in the research cycle and practical implications.

No Longer Printing the Legend: The Aporia of Heteronormativity in the American Western (1903-1969)
(2023)

This study critically investigates the U.S.-American Western and its construction of sexuality and gender, revealing that the heteronormative matrix that is upheld and defended in the genre is consistently preceded by the exploration of alternative sexualities and ways to think gender beyond the binary. The endeavor to naturalize heterosexuality seems to be baked in the formula of the U.S.-Western. However, as I show in this study, this endeavor relies on an aporia, because the U.S.-Western can only ever attempt to naturalize gender by constructing it first, hence inevitably and simultaneously construct evidence that supports the opposite: the unnaturalness and contingency of gender and sexuality.
My study relies on the works of Raewyn Connell, Pierre Bourdieu, and Judith Butler, and amalgamates in its methodology established approaches from film and literary studies (i.e., close readings) with a Foucaultian understanding of discourse and discourse analysis, which allows me to relate individual texts to cultural, socio-political and economical contexts that invariably informed the production and reception of any filmic text. In an analysis of 14 U.S.-Westerns (excluding three excursions) that appeared between 1903 and 1969 I give ample and minute narrative and film-aesthetical evidence to reveal the complex and contradictory construction of gender and sexuality in the U.S.-Western, aiming to reveal both the normative power of those categories and its structural instability and inconsistency.
This study proofs that the Western up until 1969 did not find a stable pattern to represent the gender binary. The U.S.-Western is not necessarily always looking to confirm or stabilize governing constructs of (gendered) power. However, it without fail explores and negotiates its legitimacy. Heterosexuality and male hegemony are never natural, self-evident, incontestable, or preordained. Quite conversely: the U.S.-Western repeatedly – and in a surprisingly diverse and versatile way – reveals the illogical constructedness of the heteronormative matrix.
My study therefore offers a fresh perspective on the genre and shows that the critical exploration and negotiation of the legitimacy of heteronormativity as a way to organize society is constitutive for the U.S.-Western. It is the inquiry – not necessarily the affirmation – of the legitimacy of this model that gives the U.S.-Western its ideological currency and significance as an artifact of U.S.-American popular culture.

Non-probability sampling is a topic of growing relevance, especially due to its occurrence in the context of new emerging data sources like web surveys and Big Data.
This thesis addresses statistical challenges arising from non-probability samples, where unknown or uncontrolled sampling mechanisms raise concerns in terms of data quality and representativity.
Various methods to quantify and reduce the potential selectivity and biases of non-probability samples in estimation and inference are discussed. The thesis introduces new forms of prediction and weighting methods, namely
a) semi-parametric artificial neural networks (ANNs) that integrate B-spline layers with optimal knot positioning in the general structure and fitting procedure of artificial neural networks, and
b) calibrated semi-parametric ANNs that determine weights for non-probability samples by integrating an ANN as response model with calibration constraints for totals, covariances and correlations.
Custom-made computational implementations are developed for fitting (calibrated) semi-parametric ANNs by means of stochastic gradient descent, BFGS and sequential quadratic programming algorithms.
The performance of all the discussed methods is evaluated and compared for a bandwidth of non-probability sampling scenarios in a Monte Carlo simulation study as well as an application to a real non-probability sample, the WageIndicator web survey.
Potentials and limitations of the different methods for dealing with the challenges of non-probability sampling under various circumstances are highlighted. It is shown that the best strategy for using non-probability samples heavily depends on the particular selection mechanism, research interest and available auxiliary information.
Nevertheless, the findings show that existing as well as newly proposed methods can be used to ease or even fully counterbalance the issues of non-probability samples and highlight the conditions under which this is possible.

Modern decision making in the digital age is highly driven by the massive amount of
data collected from different technologies and thus affects both individuals as well as
economic businesses. The benefit of using these data and turning them into knowledge
requires appropriate statistical models that describe the underlying observations well.
Imposing a certain parametric statistical model goes along with the need of finding
optimal parameters such that the model describes the data best. This often results in
challenging mathematical optimization problems with respect to the model’s parameters
which potentially involve covariance matrices. Positive definiteness of covariance matrices
is required for many advanced statistical models and these constraints must be imposed
for standard Euclidean nonlinear optimization methods which often results in a high
computational effort. As Riemannian optimization techniques proved efficient to handle
difficult matrix-valued geometric constraints, we consider optimization over the manifold
of positive definite matrices to estimate parameters of statistical models. The statistical
models treated in this thesis assume that the underlying data sets used for parameter
fitting have a clustering structure which results in complex optimization problems. This
motivates to use the intrinsic geometric structure of the parameter space. In this thesis,
we analyze the appropriateness of Riemannian optimization over the manifold of positive
definite matrices on two advanced statistical models. We establish important problem-
specific Riemannian characteristics of the two problems and demonstrate the importance
of exploiting the Riemannian geometry of covariance matrices based on numerical studies.

Allocating scarce resources efficiently is a major task in mechanism design. One of the most fundamental problems in mechanism design theory is the problem of selling a single indivisible item to bidders with private valuations for the item. In this setting, the classic Vickrey auction of~\citet{vickrey1961} describes a simple mechanism to implement a social welfare maximizing allocation.
The Vickrey auction for a single item asks every buyer to report its valuation and allocates the item to the highest bidder for a price of the second highest bid. This auction features some desirable properties, e.g., buyers cannot benefit from misreporting their true value for the item (incentive compatibility) and the auction can be executed in polynomial time.
However, when there is more than one item for sale and buyers' valuations for sets of items are not additive or the set of feasible allocations is constrained, then constructing mechanisms that implement efficient allocations and have polynomial runtime might be very challenging. Consider a single seller selling $n\in \N$ heterogeneous indivisible items to several bidders. The Vickrey-Clarke-Groves auction generalizes the idea of the Vickrey auction to this multi-item setting. Naturally, every bidder has an intrinsic value for every subset of items. As in in the Vickrey auction, bidders report their valuations (Now, for every subset of items!). Then, the auctioneer computes a social welfare maximizing allocation according to the submitted bids and charges buyers the social cost of their winning that is incurred by the rest of the buyers. (This is the analogue to charging the second highest bid to the winning bidder in the single item Vickrey auction.) It turns out that the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves auction is also incentive compatible but it poses some problems: In fact, say for $n=40$, bidders would have to submit $2^{40}-1$ values (one value for each nonempty subset of the ground set) in total. Thus, asking every bidder for its valuation might be impossible due to time complexity issues. Therefore, even though the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves auction implements a social welfare maximizing allocation in this multi-item setting it might be impractical and there is need for alternative approaches to implement social welfare maximizing allocations.
This dissertation represents the results of three independent research papers all of them tackling the problem of implementing efficient allocations in different combinatorial settings.

Die Dissertation beschäftigt sich mit einer neuartigen Art von Branch-and-Bound Algorithmen, deren Unterschied zu klassischen Branch-and-Bound Algorithmen darin besteht, dass
das Branching durch die Addition von nicht-negativen Straftermen zur Zielfunktion erfolgt
anstatt durch das Hinzufügen weiterer Nebenbedingungen. Die Arbeit zeigt die theoretische Korrektheit des Algorithmusprinzips für verschiedene allgemeine Klassen von Problemen und evaluiert die Methode für verschiedene konkrete Problemklassen. Für diese Problemklassen, genauer Monotone und Nicht-Monotone Gemischtganzzahlige Lineare Komplementaritätsprobleme und Gemischtganzzahlige Lineare Probleme, präsentiert die Arbeit
verschiedene problemspezifische Verbesserungsmöglichkeiten und evaluiert diese numerisch.
Weiterhin vergleicht die Arbeit die neue Methode mit verschiedenen Benchmark-Methoden
mit größtenteils guten Ergebnissen und gibt einen Ausblick auf weitere Anwendungsgebiete
und zu beantwortende Forschungsfragen.