Physics and Astronomy Building 1434A
Emilio Ferrara, Research Assistant Professor
Department of Mathematics
The increasing availability of data across different socio-technical systems, such as online social networks, social media, and mobile phone networks, presents novel challenges and intriguing research opportunities. As more online services permeate through our everyday life and as data from various domains are connected and integrated with each other, the boundary between the real and the online worlds becomes blurry. Such data convey both online and offline activities of people, as well as multiple time scales and resolutions. In this talk, I’ll discuss my research efforts aimed at characterizing and predicting human behavior and activities in techno-social worlds: starting by discussing network structure and information spreading on large online social networks, I’ll move toward characterizing entire online conversations, such as those around big real-world events, to capture the dynamics driving the emergence of collective attention. I’ll describe a machine learning framework leveraging these insights to detect promoted campaigns that mimic grassroots conversation. Aiming at learning the signature of abuse at the level of the single individuals, I’ll illustrate the challenges posed by characterizing human activity as opposed to that of synthetic entities (social bots) that attempt emulate us, to persuade, smear, tamper or deceive. I’ll then explore a variety of such applications and problems to study of emotions, cognitive heuristics, etc.
Bio. Dr. Emilio Ferrara is Research Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California, Research Leader at the USC Information Sciences Institute, and Principal Investigator at the USC/ISI Machine Intelligence and Data Science (MINDS) research group. Ferrara’s research interests include modeling and predicting individual behavior in techno-social systems, characterize information diffusion, and predict crime and abuse in such environments. He has held various research positions in institutions in Italy, Austria, and UK (2009-2012). Before joining USC in 2015, he was research faculty in the School of Informatics and Computing of Indiana University (2012-2015). Ferrara holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Messina (Italy), and has published over 80 articles on social networks, machine learning, and network science, appeared in venues like Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, Communications of the ACM, Physical Review Letters, and several ACM and IEEE transactions and conferences. His research on social networks has been featured on the major news outlets (TIME, BBC, The New York Times, etc.) and tech magazines (MIT Technology Review, Vice, Mashable, New Scientist, etc). He was named IBM Watson Big Data Influencer in 2015, and Maptive’s Big Data Expert to Follow in 2016. He received the 2016 DARPA Young Faculty Award, and the 2016 Complex Systems Society Junior Scientific Award “For outstanding contributions to complex systems sciences.” His research is supported by DARPA, IARPA, Air Force, and Office of Naval Research.