Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Relationship Between Precarious Employment, Behaviour Addictions and Substance Use Among Canadian Young Adults
This thesis utilized a unique data-set, the Quinte Longitudinal Survey, to explore relationships among precarious employment and a range of mental health problems in a representative sample of Ontario young adults. Study 1 focused on various behavioural addictions (such as problem gambling, video gaming, internet use, exercise, compulsive shopping, and sex) and precarious employment. The results showed that precariously employed men were preoccupied with gambling and sex while their female counterparts preferred shopping. Gambling and excessive shopping diminished over time while excessive sexual practices increased. Study 2 focused on the association between precarious employment and substance abuse (such as tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, hallucinogens, stimulants, and other substances). The results showed that men used cannabis more than women, and the non-precarious employed group abused alcohol more than individuals in the precarious group. This research has implications for both health care professionals and intervention program developers when working with young adults in precarious jobs. Author Keywords: Behaviour Addictions, Precarious Employment, Substance Abuse, Young Adults
Exploring the Scalability of Deep Learning on GPU Clusters
In recent years, we have observed an unprecedented rise in popularity of AI-powered systems. They have become ubiquitous in modern life, being used by countless people every day. Many of these AI systems are powered, entirely or partially, by deep learning models. From language translation to image recognition, deep learning models are being used to build systems with unprecedented accuracy. The primary downside, is the significant time required to train the models. Fortunately, the time needed for training the models is reduced through the use of GPUs rather than CPUs. However, with model complexity ever increasing, training times even with GPUs are on the rise. One possible solution to ever-increasing training times is to use parallelization to enable the distributed training of models on GPU clusters. This thesis investigates how to utilise clusters of GPU-accelerated nodes to achieve the best scalability possible, thus minimising model training times. Author Keywords: Compute Canada, Deep Learning, Distributed Computing, Horovod, Parallel Computing, TensorFlow
Population-Level Ambient Pollution Exposure Proxies
The Air Health Trend Indicator (AHTI) is a joint Health Canada / Environment and Climate Change Canada initiative that seeks to model the Canadian national population health risk due to acute exposure to ambient air pollution. The common model in the field uses averages of local ambient air pollution monitors to produce a population-level exposure proxy variable. This method is applied to ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and other similar air pollutants. We examine the representative nature of these proxy averages on a large-scale Canadian data set, representing hundreds of monitors and dozens of city-level populations. The careful determination of temporal and spatial correlations between the disparate monitors allows for more precise estimation of population-level exposure, taking inspiration from the land-use regression models commonly used in geography. We conclude this work with an examination of the risk estimation differences between the original, simplistic population exposure metric and our new, revised metric. Author Keywords: Air Pollution, Population Health Risk, Spatial Process, Spatio-Temporal, Temporal Process, Time Series
Psychometric Properties of a Scale Developed from a Three-Factor Model of Social Competency
While existing models of emotional intelligence (EI) generally recognize the importance of social competencies (SC), there is a tendency in the literature to narrow the focus to competencies that pertain to the self. Given the experiential and perceptual differences between self- vs. other-oriented emotional abilities, this is an important limitation of existing EI models and assessment tools. This thesis explores the psychometric properties of a multidimensional model for SC. Chapter 1 describes the evolution of work on SCs in modern psychology and describes the multidimensional model of SC under review. Chapter 2 replicates this model across a variety of samples and explores the model’s construct validity via basic personality and EI constructs. Chapter 3 further explores the predictive validity of the SC measure within a group of project managers and several success and wellness variables. Chapter 4 examines potential applications for the model and suggestions for further research. Author Keywords: emotional intelligence, project management, social competency, work readiness
Cloud Versus Bare Metal
A comparison of two high performance computing clusters running on AWS and Sharcnet was done to determine which scenarios yield the best performance. Algorithm complexity ranged from O (n) to O (n3). Data sizes ranged from 195 KB to 2 GB. The Sharcnet hardware consisted of Intel E5-2683 and Intel E7-4850 processors with memory sizes ranging from 256 GB to 3072 GB. On AWS, C4.8xlarge instances were used, which run on Intel Xeon E5-2666 processors with 60 GB per instance. AWS was able to launch jobs immediately regardless of job size. The only limiting factors on AWS were algorithm complexity and memory usage, suggesting a memory bottleneck. Sharcnet had the best performance but could be hampered by the job scheduler. In conclusion, Sharcnet is best used when the algorithm is complex and has high memory usage. AWS is best used when immediate processing is required. Author Keywords: AWS, cloud, HPC, parallelism, Sharcnet
Predicting the Pursuit of Post-Secondary Education
Trait Emotional Intelligence (EI) includes competencies and dispositions related to identifying, understanding, using and managing emotions. Higher trait EI has been implicated in post-secondary success, and better career-related decision-making. However, there is no evidence for whether it predicts the pursuit of post-secondary education (PSE) in emerging adulthood. This study investigated the role of trait EI in PSE pursuit using a large, nationally-representative sample of Canadian young adults who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey for Children and Youth (NLSCY). Participants in this dataset reported on their PSE status at three biennial waves (age 20-21, 22-23, and 24-25), and completed a four-factor self-report scale for trait EI (Emotional Quotient Inventory: Mini) at ages 20-21 and 24-25. Higher trait EI subscale scores were significantly associated with greater likelihood of PSE participation both concurrently, and at 2- and 4-year follow-ups. Overall, these associations were larger for men than women. Trait EI scores also showed moderate levels of temporal stability over four years, including full configural and at least partial metric invariance between time points. This suggests that the measure stays conceptually consistent over the four years of emerging adulthood, and that trait EI is a relatively malleable attribute, susceptible to change with interventions during this age period. Author Keywords: Emerging Adulthood, Longitudinal, Post-Secondary Pursuit, Trait Emotional Intelligence
An Ethical Analysis of Bell's Targeted Ad Prorgram
Online behavioural advertising (OBA) is an advertising technique which relies on collected customer information and online activity to serve people with more relevant ads. On November 16th, 2013, Bell Canada launched their first OBA program via Bell Mobility: the Bell Targeted Ads Program, or BTAP. My thesis provides an ethical analysis of BTAP and shows that Bell undermined and violated customer privacy, stifled customer autonomy, and harmed customer identity. Relevant moral problems include typification, a disrespecting of customer autonomy, and identity commodification. I show that BTAP was unethical by grounding my arguments within the moral framework of Information Ethics (IE). IE is an ethical system which focuses on the role of information in the ethical dilemmas. IE also justifies the self-constitutive theory of privacy (SCP) which argues that our information and privacy are entangled with our identities. This gives us strong reason to defend our privacy/identity within BTAP. After making several arguments which demonstrate that BTAP was unethical, I will then turn my attention to showing how it is possible to rectify and mitigate many of BTAP’s ethical problems by installing a two-stage opt-in (TSOI) which provides customers with a greater deal of autonomy, and the ability to remove themselves from BTAP. Author Keywords: Bell Canada, Ethics, Identity, Online Behavioural Advertising, Privacy, Targeted Advertising
Range-Based Component Models for Conditional Volatility and Dynamic Correlations
Volatility modelling is an important task in the financial markets. This paper first evaluates the range-based DCC-CARR model of Chou et al. (2009) in modelling larger systems of assets, vis-à-vis the traditional return-based DCC-GARCH. Extending Colacito, Engle and Ghysels (2011), range-based volatility specifications are then employed in the first-stage of DCC-MIDAS conditional covariance estimation, including the CARR model of Chou et al. (2005). A range-based analog to the GARCH-MIDAS model of Engle, Ghysels and Sohn (2013) is also proposed and tested - which decomposes volatility into short- and long-run components and corrects for microstructure biases inherent to high-frequency price-range data. Estimator forecasts are evaluated and compared in a minimum-variance portfolio allocation experiment following the methodology of Engle and Colacito (2006). Some consistent inferences are drawn from the results, supporting the models proposed here as empirically relevant alternatives. Range-based DCC-MIDAS estimates produce efficiency gains over DCC-CARR which increase with portfolio size. Author Keywords: asset allocation, DCC MIDAS, dynamic correlations, forecasting, portfolio risk management, volatility
Agro-Ecological Zoning (AEZ) of Southern Ontario and the Projected Shifts Caused by Climate Change in the Long-term Future
This thesis proposes an agro-ecological zoning (AEZ) methodology of southern Ontario for the characterization and mapping of agro-ecological zones during the historical term (1981-2010), and their shifts into the long-term (2041-2070) projected climate period. Agro-ecological zones are homogenous areas with a unique combination of climate, soil, and landscape features that are important for crop growth. Future climate variables were derived from Earth System Models (EMSs) using a high emission climate forcing scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report. The spatiotemporal shifts in agro-ecological zones with projected climate change are analyzed using the changes to the length of growing period (LGP) and crop heat units (CHU), and their manifestation in agro-climatic zones (ACZ). There are significant increases to the LGP and CHU into the long-term future. Two historical ACZs exist in the long-term future, and have decreased in area and shifted northward from their historical locations. Author Keywords: Agro-climatic Zones, Agro-ecological Zones, Agro-ecological Zoning, Climate Change, Crop Heat Units, Length of Growing Period
Disability-Mitigating Effects of Education on Post-Injury Employment Dynamics
Using data drawn from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Survey of Workers with Permanent Impairments, this thesis explores if and how the human capital associated with education mitigates the realized work-disabling effects of permanent physical injury. Using Cater’s (2000) model of post-injury adaptive behaviour and employment dynamics as the structural, theoretical, and interpretative framework, this thesis jointly studies, by injury type, the effects of education on both the post-injury probability of transitioning from non-employment into employment and the post-injury probability of remaining in employment once employed. The results generally show that, for a given injury type, other things being equal, higher levels of education are associated with higher probabilities of both obtaining and sustaining employment. Author Keywords: permanent impairment, permanent injury, post-injury employment
Long-term Financial Sustainability of China's Urban Basic Pension System
Population aging has become a worldwide concern since the nineteenth century. The decrease in birth rate and the increase in life expectancy will make China’s population age rapidly. If the growth rate of the number of workers is less than that of the number of retirees, in the long run, there will be fewer workers per retiree. This will apply great pressure to China’s public pension system in the next several decades. This is a global problem known as the “pension crisis”. In this thesis, a long-term vision for China’s urban pension system is presented. Based on the mathematical models and the projections for demographic variables, economic variables and pension scheme variables, we test how the changes in key variables affect the balances of the pension fund in the next 27 years. This thesis applies methods of deterministic and stochastic modeling as well as sensitivity analysis to the problem. Using sensitivity analysis, we find that the pension fund balance is highly sensitive to the changes in retirement age compared with other key variables. Monte Carlo simulations are also used to find the possible distributions of the pension fund balance by the end of the projection period. Finally, according to my analysis, several changes in retirement age are recommended in order to maintain the sustainability of China’s urban basic pension scheme. Author Keywords: China, demographic changes, Monte Carlo simulation, pension fund, sensitivity tests, sustainability
Machine Learning Using Topology Signatures For Associative Memory
This thesis presents a technique to produce signatures from topologies generated by the Growing Neural Gas algorithm. The generated signatures have the following characteristics: The signature's memory footprint is smaller than the "real object" and it represents a point in the n x m multidimensional space. Signatures can be compared based on Euclidean distance and distances between signatures provide measurements of differences between models. Signatures can be associated with a concept and then be used as a learning step for a classification algorithm. The signatures are normalized and vectorized to be used in a multidimensional space clustering. Although the technique is generic in essence, it was tested by classifying alphabet and numerical handwritten characters and 2D figures obtaining a good accuracy and precision. It can be used for many other purposes related to shapes and abstract typologies classification and associative memory. Future work could incorporate other classifiers. Author Keywords: Associative memory, Character recognition, Machine learning, Neural gas, Topological signatures, Unsupervised learning

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