Communications and Signal Processing Seminar

Language-agnostic Social Media Signal Processing

Tarek F. AbdelzaherProfessorUniversity of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, Department of Computer Science

In the last decade, social networks, such as Twitter, emerged as a new information dissemination medium that propagates information regarding the physical world. Viewed from the perspective of an embedded systems researcher, this talk draws an analogy between physical sensing modalities, such as acoustic sensing, magnetic sensing, and seismic sensing on the one hand, and a social sensing modality – the language-agnostic exploitation of social media as sensors – on the other. Much in the way physical targets cause signal propagation through a physical medium, world events cause information propagation on the social medium. Understanding the properties of such propagation allows one to reconstruct properties of both the propagation fabric (people and communities) and the events that caused the propagation in the first place. We model such reconstruction as an estimation problem, drawing on solutions inspired by modeling signal propagation on physical media. We present simple signal processing techniques for the social sensing modality and review experiences using social sensing for event detection, demultiplexing, human bias characterization, veracity analysis, and detection of misinformation campaigns, demonstrating advantages and limitations of the engineering approach.
Tarek Abdelzaher received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, in 1990 and 1994 respectively. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1999 on Quality of Service Adaptation in Real-Time Systems. He has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, where he founded the Software Predictability Group. He is currently a Professor and Willett Faculty Scholar at the Department of Computer Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He has authored/coauthored more than 200 refereed publications in real-time computing, distributed systems, sensor networks, and control. He is an Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Real-Time Systems, and has served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Embedded Systems Letters, the ACM Transaction on Sensor Networks, and the Ad Hoc Networks Journal. He chaired (as Program or General Chair) several conferences in his area including RTAS, RTSS, IPSN, Sensys, DCoSS, ICDCS, and ICAC. Abdelzaher's research interests lie broadly in understanding and influencing performance and temporal properties of networked embedded, social and software systems in the face of increasing complexity, distribution, and degree of interaction with an external physical environment. Tarek Abdelzaher is the lead of the Internet of Battlefield Things Collaborative Research Alliance, established in 2017. He is a recipient of the IEEE Outstanding Technical Achievement and Leadership Award in Real-time Systems (2012), the Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2011), as well as several best paper awards. He is a member of IEEE and ACM.

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