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Tracking Influence in Dynamic Social Networks

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When Jan 14, 2014
from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Where 57-124 E4
Contact Name
Contact Phone 310-206-8795
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Visitor Seminar

Rebecca Willet
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Abstract
Cascading chains of interactions are a salient feature of many real-world social networks. One particularly well-studied example is social reciprocity between two people, but more distributed series of interactions are also possible: kindnesses are "paid forward'', gang violence begets retaliations, nation-state conflicts are accompanied by proxy wars, and chain emails are regularly forwarded. This talk addresses the challenge of tracking how the actions within a social network stimulate or influence future actions. We adopt an online learning framework well-suited to streaming data, using a multivariate Hawkes model to encapsulate autoregressive features of observed events within the social network. Recent work on online learning in dynamic environments is leveraged not only to exploit the dynamics within the social network, but also to track that network structure as it evolves. Regret bounds and experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method (with no prior knowledge of the network) performs nearly as well as would be possible with full knowledge of the network. Joint work with Eric Hall.

Biography
Rebecca Willett is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University in 2005 and was an Assistant then Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University from 2005 to 2013. Willett received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2007, is a member of the DARPA Computer Science Study Group, and received an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program award in 2010. Willett has also held visiting researcher positions at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA in 2004, the University of Wisconsin-Madison 2003-2005, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in 2003, and the Applied Science Research and Development Laboratory at GE Healthcare in 2002. Her research interests include network and imaging science with applications in medical imaging, neural coding, astronomy, and social networks. Additional information, including publications and software, are available online at http://willett.ece.wisc.edu.

Department Hosting: Electrical Engineering

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