Embedded representations of social interactions

Torricelli, Maddalena (2022) Embedded representations of social interactions, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Data science and computation, 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10120.
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Social interactions have been the focus of social science research for a century, but their study has recently been revolutionized by novel data sources and by methods from computer science, network science, and complex systems science. The study of social interactions is crucial for understanding complex societal behaviours. Social interactions are naturally represented as networks, which have emerged as a unifying mathematical language to understand structural and dynamical aspects of socio-technical systems. Networks are, however, highly dimensional objects, especially when considering the scales of real-world systems and the need to model the temporal dimension. Hence the study of empirical data from social systems is challenging both from a conceptual and a computational standpoint. A possible approach to tackling such a challenge is to use dimensionality reduction techniques that represent network entities in a low-dimensional feature space, preserving some desired properties of the original data. Low-dimensional vector space representations, also known as network embeddings, have been extensively studied, also as a way to feed network data to machine learning algorithms. Network embeddings were initially developed for static networks and then extended to incorporate temporal network data. We focus on dimensionality reduction techniques for time-resolved social interaction data modelled as temporal networks. We introduce a novel embedding technique that models the temporal and structural similarities of events rather than nodes. Using empirical data on social interactions, we show that this representation captures information relevant for the study of dynamical processes unfolding over the network, such as epidemic spreading. We then turn to another large-scale dataset on social interactions: a popular Web-based crowdfunding platform. We show that tensor-based representations of the data and dimensionality reduction techniques such as tensor factorization allow us to uncover the structural and temporal aspects of the system and to relate them to geographic and temporal activity patterns.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Torricelli, Maddalena
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
network embedding, computational social science, network science, machine learning
Data di discussione
21 Marzo 2022

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