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CNetS team shows new levels of refinement in predicting human mobility, epidemic spread

human mobility patternsThe interplay of human mobility patterns like those between local metropolitan commuters and long-range airline travelers during a global epidemic can be modeled in such detail so as to offer refined views of epidemics that could aid in public health emergency decision making, according to new research published by Professor Alessandro Vespignani’s research team at Indiana University. The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences‘ Online Early Edition, also note that with these refined computational strategies, new levels of accuracy about the behavior of targeted mobility networks and epidemic progression can be imagined. Contributing with Vespignani on the paper were research scientists Duygu Balcan and Bruno Goncalves of the IU School of Informatics and Computing, and the Pervasive Technology Institute, IU Physics Department graduate student Hao Hu and research scientists Vittoria Colizza and Jose Ramasco of the Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation in Torino, Italy.  More…

Professor Vespignani will give a talk on planning for H1N1 flu during the Physics and Astronomy Open House on October 31st

Professor Vespignani
Professor Vespignani

Alessandro Vespignani, Professor of Informatics, Associate Director of the Pervasive Technology Institute Digital Science Center and Director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) will give a talk on how physics and computers are working together to fight global pandemics like the H1N1 flu virus at the Indiana University Open House to be held on Saturday, October 31st by the IU Departments of Physics and Astronomy. His talk titled “Planning for the H1N1 flu – How physics and computers help to fight off global pandemics” will commence at 12.30 p.m. The event, set from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. taking place at Swain Hall West, 727 E. Third St., will also include guided tours of the IU Cyclotron Facility (IUCF) and the Kirkwood Observatory, along with designed-for-the-public lectures from astronomy Professor Emeritus Martin Burkhead and School of Informatics Professor Alessandro Vespignani. The attendance for this exciting event is free for all ages. More…

Bringing H1N1 vaccine is a race against time says Professor Vespignani

Professor Vespignani speaks on H1N1 vaccine
Professor Vespignani speaks on H1N1 vaccine

As Hoosiers roll up their sleeves to take the seasonal flu shots, researchers state that the H1N1 vaccination may take longer to arrive for large scale inoculation than anticipated. “It’s a race against time,” said IU School of Informatics professor Dr. Alessandro Vespignani who was on his way to an H1N1 conference Tuesday. He says by the time the vaccine is widely available, “it’s likely to have the peak of the disease earlier than an appreciable percentage of the population will be vaccinated.” He believes the H1N1 virus should hit its peak by about Halloween. By then, half of those who are going to get ill will have gotten sick, and only then will large supplies be available. “There is no need to panic. The disease is mild, it is under the constant attention of authorities,” Dr. Vespignani said. More…

AIRWEB 2009 practice talk for Tuesday, 3/24

Dear NaNers,

I will be using Tuesday (3/24) as a practice talk for AIRWEB 2009. Hope everyone had a nice spring break!

Title: Social Spam Detection

The popularity of social bookmarking sites has made them prime targets for spammers. Many of these systems require an administrator’s time and energy to manually filter or remove spam. Here we discuss the motivations ofsocial spam, and present a study of automatic detection of spammers in a social tagging system. We identify and analyze six distinct features that address various properties of social spam, finding that each of these features provides for a helpful signal to discriminate spammers from legitimate users. These features are then used in various machine learning
algorithms for classification, achieving over 98% accuracy in detecting social spammers with 2% false positives. These promising results provide a new baseline for future efforts on social spam. We make our dataset publicly
available to the research community.


NSF award to fund research on the social Web

givealinkFil Menczer recently received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the Social Integration of Semantic Annotation Networks for Web Applications. The project brings together complex networks and Web mining techniques to develop a new generation of search engines and collaborative Web applications such as The researchers will leverage existing annotations from users (such as the bookmarks they already maintain on their browsers) and elicit new ones through useful tools and games. The research will lead to a framework for building and maintaining socio-semantic networks of relationships between, and among, users, tags, and Web sites. In the end, these networks will improve social Web applications such as search, recommendation, spam detection, and exploratory navigation interfaces. More…

$1.2 million NIH project will help track and predict epidemics

us_1marchThe National Institutes of Health has given $1.2 million to Indiana University researchers to build the ultimate international epidemic research tool. Principle investigators Katy Börner, Steven J. Sherman and Alessandro Vespignani will oversee the project, EpiC, which they hope will make the sharing and re-using of epidemics datasets and algorithms as easy as sharing videos via YouTube. The three researchers come from three distinct areas of the campus — the School of Library and Information Science, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Informatics, respectively. Additional members of the evolving team are IU researchers Duygu Balcan, Weixia Huang and Bruce W. Herr. Read the full press release or more info and figures….

Advances in Artificial Life

lnai_ecal07New book with the latest advances in Artificial Life. This book, co-edited by Prof. Luis M. Rocha, constitutes the refereed proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Artificial Life, ECAL 2007, held in Lisbon, Portugal, September 2007. The 125 revised full papers presented were carefully reviewed and selected. The papers are organized in topical sections on conceptual articles, morphogenesis and development, robotics and autonomous agents, evolutionary computation and theory, cellular automata, models of biological systems and their applications, ant colony and swarm systems, evolution of communication, simulation of social interactions, self-replication, artificial chemistry, and posters. More information from the publisher’s site. Also related is a similar MIT Press volume co-edited by several members of the Complex Systems Group containing the proceedings of the Artificial Life X conference.

Mathematical models add more options for life sciences, cancer researchers

941_imgThe use of mathematical modeling to better understand the origin and progression of life systems is the subject of American Scientist cover article Multiscale Modeling in Biology featuring the work of Prof. Santiago Schnell. A related paper authored by Schnell is ranked first among the Theoretical Biology & Medical Modelling most viewed articles of all time. This is a list of the most frequently accessed articles in the history of the journal, compiled using online access statistics of the publisher BioMedCentral. The article A multiscale mathematical model of cancer, and its use in analyzing irradiation therapies was coauthored with Benjamin Ribba and Thierry Colin, and appeared in Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling 3:7 (2006). More…

IU team has pulse on pandemic preparation

us_1marchAn Indiana University School of Informatics-led team of researchers have developed a mathematical model that can predict the spread and severity of a worldwide flu outbreak, giving health and public safety officials a leg up on where to dedicate their resources. Their report, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, describes several scenarios of flu virus pandemics and how best to contain them. The researchers show that strict travel restrictions would do little if anything to prevent the flu from spreading throughout the globe. Other measures could therefore be crucial, but it is likely that only a few countries will be able to stockpile supplies of drugs active against the virus. In these circumstances, compared with a ‘selfish strategy’ in which countries use their antiviral drugs only within their borders, limited worldwide sharing of antiviral drugs would slow down the spread of a flu virus by many months, to the benefit of both drug donors and recipients. Marion County Health Department and Health Services at Eli Lilly and Co. comment on that.. More press and figures….