91.580, Topics in Computer Science: Social Networks

Overview Reading List Resources Schedule  
Instructor: Benyuan Liu (bliu@cs.uml.edu), Olsen 210

Time and Place: Wednesday 4:30-7:15pm, Olsen 401

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Uml Online Social Networks

Course Description:

Online social networks (OSNs) such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn, have become popular platforms for people to make connections, share information, and interact with each other. OSN sites provide functionalities for users to build online profiles, establish friendships, send messages, post photos, advertise events, comment on friend's profiles, and create and join online communities of common interests. With the fast growing number of users and the deployment of new services and applications, online social networking has become a vital part of the Internet ecosystem. In addition to personal use, businesses have been quick to identify online social networks as an effective means to promote their business or distribute advertisements.

In this course, we will examine the rise in popularity of online social networks, study their properties, and explore how online social networks can be used to detect and predict trends and events, propagate information and influence, and solve problems in computing systems. The course will consist of two components: a paper-reading component where students will read and present papers, and a project component where students will work in groups on social network related projects.

Course Structure

As this course is a seminar course, the structure will consist of two components:

Reading and Discussing Papers

All students should read every paper to be presented ahead of time and participate in the discussion. For each paper, the presenter will make an approximately 50 minutes presentation that describes the motivation, goals, and results of the paper. During and after presentation, the presenter will lead the discussion on the paper.


The goal of the project is to conduct a miniature version of a "real" research project. You will first pick a topic, and argue in a written research proposal that this is a topic worth exploring, and that you are capable and prepared to do so. You will design and implement a solution to the problem you have chosen, and quantitatively evaluate your solution. You will then write up the results of your project in a draft final report, which, after review, you will turn into a final report. Finally, you will give a 25-minute presentation of the results of your project in class.


Grades will be based on the following weighting:

Paper Presetation35%