From flash mobs at the local mall to trending activist hashtags, social networks have quickly integrated themselves into modern human life and become a tool for instantaneous global communication. Every day, an estimated 700 million people (out of billions of registered users) worldwide are weighing in on the top social networking sites, swaying others, making decisions and forming relationships in a constant torrent of information.
While it’s true that we can analyze the complexity of networks, given time, the deluge of data is too massive, too complex and too time-consuming for current technology to sort in real time.
Which is why UC Santa Barbara professors of computer science Ben Zhao, Subhash Suri and Heather Zheng, along with electrical and computer engineering professor Upamanyu Madhow, have teamed up for an ambitious project that not only aims to further understand social networks but also creates a means for analyzing them as they happen. It will provide a deeper comprehension of an increasingly “real” virtual world, as well as ways to monitor or prevent viral outbreaks, both in the real world and online, or track systems like transportation or biological protein networks.
The full article by Sonia Fernandez in the Convergence magazine can be found here.