Our recently published, NERDS-involved Nature paper “The universal visitation law of human mobility” has received some prominent, international media coverage in the last month. Here a selection of news articles that explain the paper’s findings and implications:
NERDS are currently active at this year’s International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM): https://www.icwsm.org/2021/index.htmlThe International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) is a forum for researchers from multiple disciplines to come together to share knowledge, discuss ideas, exchange information, and learn about cutting-edge research in diverse fields with the common theme of online social media. This overall theme includes research in new perspectives in social theories, as well as computational algorithms for analyzing social media. ICWSM is a singularly fitting venue for research that blends social science and computational approaches to answer important and challenging questions about human social behavior through social media while advancing computational tools for vast and unstructured data.
As usual, Luca Maria Aiello fulfils his role as Senior PC member at ICWSM. Further, we published two new papers at the event:
- The Healthy States of America: Creating a Health Taxonomy with Social Media, by S. Šćepanović, L.M. Aiello, K. Zhou, S. Joglekar, and D. Quercia
Since the uptake of social media, researchers have mined online discussions to track the outbreak and evolution of specific diseases or chronic conditions such as influenza or depression. Here we developed a Deep Learning tool for Natural Language Processing that extracts mentions of virtually any medical condition or disease from unstructured social media text. We applied it to Reddit and Twitter posts, analyzed the clusters of the two resulting co-occurrence networks of conditions, and discovered that they correspond to well-defined categories of medical conditions. This resulted in the creation of the first comprehensive taxonomy of medical conditions automatically derived from online discussions, which strikingly resembles the official International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).
- Multilayer Graph Association Rules for Link Prediction, by M. Coscia and M. Szell
Here we investigate the multilayer link prediction problem with graph association rules: Will two nodes connect, and of which type?
This month we have published four new papers, in Nature, Sustainability, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, and ACM Computing Surveys:
- The universal visitation law of human mobility, by M. Schläpfer, L. Dong, K. O’Keeffe, P. Santi, M. Szell, H. Salat, S. Anklesaria, M. Vazifeh, C. Ratti, G.B. West, published in Nature
More info at the accompanying interactive website: https://senseable.mit.edu/wanderlust/
This paper reveals a simple and robust scaling law that captures the temporal and spatial spectrum of population movement on the basis of large-scale mobility data from diverse cities around the globe.
- Implementing Gehl’s Theory to Study Urban Space. The Case of Monotowns, by D. Cerrone, J. López Baeza, P. Lehtovuori, D. Quercia, R. Schifanella, and L.M. Aiello, published in Sustainability
The paper presents a method to operationalize Jan Gehl’s questions for public space into metrics to map Russian monotowns’ urban life in 2017. With the use of social media data, it becomes possible to scale Gehl’s approach from the survey of small urban areas to the analysis of entire cities while maintaining the human scale’s resolution.
- The Dreamcatcher: Interactive Storytelling of Dreams, by E.P. Bogucka, B.A. Aseniero, L.M. Aiello, D. Quercia, published in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications
Here we designed “The Dreamcatcher,” an interactive visual tool that explores the link between dreams and waking life through a collection of dream reports. We conducted a user study with 154 participants and found a 25% increase in the number of people believing that dream analysis can improve our daily lives after interacting with our tool. The visualization informed people about the potential of the continuity hypothesis to a surprising extent, to the point that it increased their concerns about sharing their own dream reports, thus opening new questions on how to design privacy-aware tools for dream collection.
- Community Detection in Multiplex Networks, by M. Magnani, O. Hanteer, R. Interdonato, L. Rossi, A. Tagarelli, published in ACM Computing Surveys
Here we provide a taxonomy of community detection algorithms in multiplex networks. We characterize the different algorithms based on various properties and we discuss the type of communities detected by each method. We then provide an extensive experimental evaluation of the reviewed methods to answer three main questions: to what extent the evaluated methods are able to detect ground-truth communities, to what extent different methods produce similar community structures, and to what extent the evaluated methods are scalable. Besides offering a much needed overview of the methods and assumptions of CD in multiplex networks the paper attempts to provide few guiding principles for the choice of a community detection approach to multiplex data.
We are looking for a postdoc in data/network science, to start in fall 2021: Read more and apply at the official call page
The postdoc will work in the NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS) group at IT University of Copenhagen with Roberta Sinatra on the topic of Science of Science and Algorithmic fairness. The group currently focuses on quantitative projects at the boundary of computational social science and network science, including science of science, social dynamics, urban sustainability, data visualization, and fundamental questions in complex systems.
The postdoc position is part of a large project aimed to uncover the bias mechanisms that drive scientific impact, and to use them to create fair algorithms. The project will involve the analysis of large-scale datasets, running controlled experiments, and modelling social dynamics in science. Our priority is to attract technically strong researchers who are interested in asking bold, new questions with data. The team executing the project is composed of the PI, two postdocs, and one PhD student.
The position is in the NERDS group in the Computer Science Department. Both salary and working conditions are excellent. The group is a down-to-earth and fun place to be. Copenhagen is often named as the best city in the world to live in, and for good reasons. It’s world-renowned for food, beer, art, music, architecture, the Scandinavian “hygge”, and much more. In Denmark, parental leave is generous, and child-care is excellent and cheap.
We are thrilled to welcome Bojan Kostic to our research group!
Bojan joins us as Postdoc. He previously worked at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), in the Machine Learning for Smart Mobility group (MLSM), on the application of Data Science and Machine Learning in transport and mobility.
At NERDS he will be applying his skills in traffic data analytics and video processing using machine learning and computer vision, to deepen our understanding of interlinked human behavior in urban traffic.
We have a new exciting paper out: Temporal and cultural limits of privacy in smartphone app usage by Vedran Sekara et al. published in Nature Scientific Reports, asking:
The paper looks into which apps people use and creates app-fingerprints for 3.5 million individuals. Similar to forensic science where you need 12 points to distinguish between fingerprints we ask how many apps do we need to distinguish between two users? We find people’s smartphone app behavior is very unique and 3 apps are enough to identify more than 90% of all individuals. But app-fingerprints change over time and are different between countries. We find that people have more unique app-fingerprints during summer because we use more unique apps, and Americans have the most unique fingerprints (need the fewest apps to identify them) while Finns are the least unique (need more apps to identify their fingerprint). Why is this important? Because the work highlights problems with current policies intended to protect user privacy and emphasizes that policies cannot directly be ported between countries.
With NERDS winning grants and growing, we have added a Positions page at https://nerds.itu.dk/positions/, currently featuring 2 open calls at ITU that are directly relevant to us as they can lead to NERDS positions. If your research overlaps with ours and you are interested get in touch!
1) PhD Open Call 2021
The ITU-wide PhD Open Call 2021, deadline March 10th, features 2 potential PhD projects by NERDS members:
1) Michael: Network analysis of urban transport networks for a green transition from car- centricity to cycling
2) Michele+Luca: Modelling Complex Social Systems to Handle Disinformation
2) Asst./Assoc. Professor in data science and machine learning
This computer science department wide call, deadline March 29th, is looking for applicants in any of these areas, including NERDS topics:
- Data mining, large-scale data analysis, data visualization
- Machine learning
- Natural language processing
- Network science, analysis of large (social and other) networks
- Computer vision, signal analysis
- Computational social science
- Fairness and accountability in data science and machine learning
- Statistics, computational statistics, probabilistic modelling
Watch this space and stay tuned for more. 🤓
On yesterday’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Roberta took part in a corresponding event organized by her alma mater, University of Catania, Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia “Ettore Majorana”, delivering a keynote talk on the topic and on her research.
The event was in Italian, it can be watched here:
We are thrilled to welcome Luca Maria Aiello to our research group!
Luca joins us as Associate Professor, coming from industry. He conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection of computational social science, digital health, network science, and urban informatics, using large-scale digital data to quantify people’s well-being and build systems that can improve it. Currently, he is focusing on Natural Language Processing to quantify social and psychological experiences from text.
He had a few past professional roles: Senior Research Scientist at Bell Labs in Cambridge, UK; Research Fellow of the ISI Foundation in Turin; Research Scientist at Yahoo Labs Barcelona and London; visiting scientist at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems at Indiana University.
Roberta Sinatra was one of the 19 recipients of this year’s Villum Young Investigators grant!
The Villum Young Investigator programme (YIP) focuses on attracting and retaining talented young Danish and international researchers at Danish universities. The aim is to support the development of high-level international research environments in the universities.
Roberta’s winning proposal was awarded with DKK 6M:
Bias Explained: Pushing Algorithmic Fairness with Models and Experiments
Algorithms for ranking scientific information have an issue: they use citations, which are ingrained with human biases. Therefore, their output is also biased, creating inequalities and raising concerns of discrimination. This project aims to uncover the mathematical bias mechanisms that drive different citation trajectories given same quality, and to use them for creating fair algorithms.
We are overwhelmed with joy for Roberta’s success, and are looking forward to her future groundbreaking research. The grant will allow the recruitment of one PhD student and two postdocs – so stay tuned for upcoming job calls.