Logo: University of Southern California

Kristina Lerman Team to Study of Social Networking Threats

Project will bridge gaps between social science, mathematical, and computational approaches to networks
Eric Mankin
November 23, 2010 —

The Air Force Office of Science Research working through a UCLA-headquartered Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) is funding an ISI study of "Inferring Structure and Forecasting Dynamics of Evolving Networks."

Social networks underpin a new generation of potential terror threats, playing a role in the

Kristina Lerman
formation of extremist identities, dissemination of propaganda, recruitment of followers, social transmission of operational and tactical skills, and, ultimately, the execution of hostile acts.

The inherent complexity of these networks motivated the new study. Kristina Lerman, a project leader at the Viterbi School's Information Sciences Institute, will work with Aram Galstyan, Yu-Han Chang, and Alex Tartakovsky (USC Mathematics), coordinating with colleagues at UCLA.

The MURI team will develop novel models and metrics for inferring individual and group behavior, acknowledging that social networks may incorporate static, dynamic and stochastic structures, facilitate cooperative and competitive interactions both within and between groups, intentionally include covert features alongside those left open for public scrutiny, and be variously robust or fragile to disruptions.

The proposed research is data-driven and will bridge gaps between social science, mathematics, and computational approaches to networks by developing models and metrics that will be tested against diverse empirical data sets on human social networks from field, laboratory and web-based settings.