Basics of Set-Theoretic Methods and Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

Carsten Schneider, Central European University


The module starts out by familiarising students with the basic concepts of set-theoretic methods. We discuss the two fundamental subset relations of necessity and sufficiency, and introduce the basics of formal logic, set theory, and Boolean algebra. From there, we move to the logic and analysis of truth tables and discuss the most important problems that emerge when this analytic tool is used for analysing social science data. All topics will be introduced using crisp sets and later expanded to fuzzy sets. Right from the beginning, students will be exposed to performing set-theoretic analyses using the relevant R software packages. When discussing set-theoretic methods, in-class debates will further engage on broad, general comparative social research issues, such as case selection principles, concept formation, questions of data aggregation and the treatment of causally relevant notions of time. Real-life published applications are used throughout the course. Participants are encouraged to bring their own data for in-class exercises and assignments, if available.


This course runs January 15-19, 2018.


Marcos Campos, University of São Paulo


Carsten Schneider, Central European University


Topic 1: Set Theory
- Methodological foundations: set theory, Boolean and fuzzy algebra, formal logic
- Set operations and set relations

Topic 2. Calibration
- Measurement and calibration
- Calibration techniques
- Differences in calibration and their consequences

Topic 3. Truth Table Analysis
- From data matrix to truth table
- Analyzing truth tables
- Quine-McCluskey Algorithm

Topic 4. Parameters of Fit
- Consistency and coverage measures for necessary and sufficient conditions
- Issues related to the parameters of fit

Topic 5. Limited Diversity
- Origins of remainders
- Types of remainders
- Types of assumptions on remainders
- The Standard Analysis