DAC and UrbComp actively participating at KDD 2018 with conference organization and research presentations

KDD Logo

The Discovery Analytics Center and the Urban Computing Certificate Program (funded through a National Science Foundation traineeship grant and administered through DAC) will be well represented at the 24th Annual  Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD 2018) conference in London, August 19-23.

The overall theme of this year’s conference is data mining for social good.

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Focus on Andrew Hoegh…..a DAC alumnus interview

Andrew Hoegh, DAC alumni and assistant professor of statistics at Montana State University

After Andrew Hoegh graduated from Virginia Tech with a Ph.D. in statistics in 2016, he headed northwest to Bozeman, Montana, to join Montana State University as assistant professor of statistics. That same year, there was more good news for Hoegh. “Bayesian Model Fusion for Forecasting Civil Unrest,”  which he co-authored with his DAC advisor Scotland Leman; DAC Ph.D. student Parang Saraf; and DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan, garnered the Jack Youden Prize for Best Expository Paper in the 2015 issues of Technometrics, a journal published by the American Statistical Society.

In a recent interview Hoegh talked about life in Montana and reflected back on his time as a DAC Ph.D. student and brought us up to date.

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UrbComp Ph.D. student Stacey Clifton credits conference with informing her dissertation research interests in intelligence-led policing

Stacey Clifton, UrbComp Ph.D. Trainee in Sociology

As a National Science Foundation trainee in the Urban Computing certificate program, Stacey Clifton, a Ph.D. student and sociology major, had the opportunity to attend the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing Conference last month.

The conference, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provided valuable information and insights related to her research on police socialization and subculture, and community, evidence-based, and predictive policing. Clifton said that what she learned enabled her to further pinpoint her dissertation research interests in intelligence-led policing.

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Jia-Bin Huang awarded NSF grant to advance representation learning and adaptation with free unlabeled images and videos

Jia-Bin Huang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a DAC faculty member

Jia-Bin Huang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a DAC faculty member, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems to develop algorithms to capitalize on the massive amount of free unlabeled images and videos readily available on the internet for representation learning and adaptation.

This approach is in contrast to recent success in visual recognition which relies on training deep neural networks (DNNs) on a large-scale annotated image classification dataset in a fully supervised fashion.

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Virginia Tech study identifies conspiracy cohorts on Reddit; suggests targeting ‘joiners’ for intervention

Tanushree Mitra, assistant professor of computer science and a faculty member at DAC

While online communities play a crucial role in spreading conspiracy theories after catastrophic events like mass shootings or a terrorist attack, not much is known about who participates in these event-specific conspiratorial discussions or how they evolve over time.

A new study by Tanushree Mitra, assistant professor of computer science and a faculty member at the Discovery Analytics Center, and Mattia Samory, a postdoc in the Department of Computer Science, identifies three conspiracy cohorts on the Reddit social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website and suggests that “joiners“ —  who join both Reddit and the conspiracy community only after an event has occurred — show the most extreme signs of distress at the time of an event and exhibit the most radical changes over time.

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DAC students use summer months to broaden knowledge at tech-related jobs across the U.S.

Michelle Dowling, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science, teaching at her alma mater, Grand Valley State University.

Students at the Discovery Analytics Center have headed off to summer jobs and internships from coast to coast. Following is a good example of the kind of real world experience they are getting.

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B. Aditya Prakash on IEEE magazine’s list of 10 young stars to watch in artificial intelligence

B. Aditya Prakash, DAC faculty member and assistant professor of computer science.

B. Aditya Prakash, an assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, is being celebrated as one of 10 young stars in the field of artificial intelligence by IEEE Intelligent Systems.

The technical magazine named Prakash, who is also a faculty member at the Discovery Analytics Center, to the prestigious AI’s 10 to Watch list for his contributions to understanding, reasoning, and mining the phenomenon of propagation over networks in diverse real-world systems.  Click here to read more about the AI’s 10 to Watch list.

Congratulations to DAC spring and summer graduates!

DAC Ph.D. graduate Parang Saraf and his daughter Diya Saraf

Virginia Tech graduates celebrating their achievements this spring include two    Ph.D. students and three master’s students at the Discovery Analytics Center.

Two Ph.D. students and one master’s student are planning to celebrate the completion of their degrees during the summer.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Lata Kodali

Lata Kodali, DAC Ph.D. student in statistics

Lata Kodali looks at statistics as a great bridge between theory and application.

“It is  also a field that is applicable in a broad spectrum,” she said,  “and right now I see myself working in an industry position with a focus on research and design that also encourages creativity.”

Kodali has a bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman University and a master’s degree from Wake Forest University, both in mathematics. Prior to her Ph.D. work, most of her experience was theoretical rather than applied.

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Virginia Tech graduate students team up with D.C. transit to help enhance customer service

UrbComp students Bryse Flowers (left) and Farnaz Khaghani were on the student team working with WMATA. Behind them is Brian Mayer, project manager and research scientist at the Discovery Analytics Center, who oversaw the study.

Last fall, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) struck a partnership with Virginia Tech’s graduate program in urban computing for help in predicting its system’s on-time performance (OTP).

The resulting study, by a team of students enrolled in Introduction to Urban Computing, a computer science course in the UrbComp certificate program administered by the Discovery Analytics Center, is one of the first steps in connecting WMATA’s Rush Hour Promise — initiated in January 2018 to provide a refund to any customer delayed by 15 minutes or more during rush hour — to underlying service disruptions, according to Jordan Holt, senior performance analyst at WMATA.  Click here to read more about the collaboration.