Basser Seminar Series

Computational Social Science: Big Data Analytics as a Means to Understand Human Behavior

Speaker: Professor Jaideep Srivastava
University of Minnesota

Time: Friday 12 April, 11am to 12noon

Location: The University of Sydney, School of IT Building, SIT Boardroom (Room 124), Level 1

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Observation and analysis of a phenomenon at unprecedented levels of granularity not only furthers our understanding of it, but also transforms the way it is studied. For instance, invention of gene-sequencing and computational analysis transformed the life sciences, creating fields of inquiry such as genomics, proteomics, etc.; and the Hubble space telescope has furthered the ability of humanity to look much farther beyond what we could otherwise.

With the mass adoption of the Internet in our daily lives, and the ability to capture high resolution data on its use, we are at the threshold of a fundamental shift not only in our understanding of the social and behavioral sciences (i.e. psychology, sociology, and economics), but also the ways in which we study them. Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and Virtual Worlds (VWs) have become increasingly popular and have communities comprising tens of millions. They serve as unprecedented tools to theorize and empirically model the social and behavioral dynamics of individuals, groups, and networks within large communities.

The preceding observation has led to a number of multi-disciplinary projects, involving teams of behavioural scientists and computational scientists, working together to develop novel methods and tools to explore the current limits of behavioral sciences. This talk consists of four parts. First, we describe findings from the Virtual World Exploratorium; a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary project which uses data from commercial MMOGs and VWs to study many fields of social science, including sociology, social psychology, organization theory, group dynamics, macro-economics, etc. Results from investigations into various behavioral sciences will be presented.

Second, we provide a survey of new approaches for behavioral informatics that are being developed by multi-disciplinary teams, and their successes. We will also introduce novel tools and techniques that are being used and/or developed as part of this research. Third, we will discuss some novel applications that are not yet there, but are just around the corner, and their associated research issues. Finally, we present commercial applications of Game Analytics research, based on our experiences with a startup company that we've created.

Speaker's biography

Jaideep Srivastava is Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he directs a laboratory focusing on research in Web Mining, Social Media Analytics, and Health Analytics. He has authored over 310 papers, filed 8 patents, and supervised 30 PhD dissertations and 59 MS theses. His research has received 6 Best Paper Awards. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and has been an IEEE Distinguished Visitor. He is a Distinguished Fellow of Allina’s Center for Healthcare Innovation. He has been awarded the Distinguished Research Contributions Award of the PAKDD, for his lifetime contributions to the field of data mining.

Dr Srivastava is currently co-leading a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary project in the rapidly emerging area of social computing ( His research has been supported by a broad range of government agencies, including NSF, NASA, ARDA, DARPA, IARPA, NIH, CDC, US Army, US Air Force, and MNDoT; and industries, including IBM, United Technologies, Eaton, Honeywell, Cargill, and Huawei Telecom. He has an active collaboration with Allina Health.

Dr Srivastava has significant experience in the industry, in both consulting and executive roles. He has led a data mining team at, built a data analytics department at Yodlee, and served as the Chief Technology Officer for Persistent Systems. He has provided technology and strategy advice to Cargill, United Technologies, IBM, Honeywell, KPMG, 3M, TCS, and Eaton, and has served as Advisor to the State Government of Minnesota, the State Government of Maharashtra, and is presently technology adviser to the UID project of the Government of India. Dr. Srivastava is the Co-Founder and CTO of Ninja Metrics, which brings his research in social analytics to the commercial world. He is also Adviser and Chief Scientist at CogCubed, an innovative company whose goal is to revolutionize the diagnosis and therapy of cognitive disorders through the use of games with a purpose (GWAP).

Dr Srivastava has held distinguished professorships at Heilongjiang University and Wuhan University, China. He has also held advisory positions with the State of Minnesota, and the State of Maharashtra, India. He’s a technology advisor to the Unique ID (UID) project of the Government of India, whose goal is to provide biometrics-based social security numbers to the 1.2 Billion citizens of India.

Dr Srivastava has delivered over 170 invited talks in over 30 countries, including more than a dozen keynote addresses at major international conferences. He has a Bachelors of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, India, and MS and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, all in Computer Science and Engineering.