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The Foundations of Social Data Science

With Professor Helen Margetts, Professor Melinda Mills, Professor Patrick Wolfe, and Professor Peter John
Date & Time:
09:00:00 - 19:00:00,
Monday 14 December, 2015


The vast quantities of heterogeneous data now available about people and their actions will revolutionise our understanding of human behaviour (Lazer et al, Science, 2009). These forms of data also challenge the underpinnings of modern mathematical and computational methods for the analysis of large-scale data. Together these two open problems motivate a new field: social data science. Here we propose a workshop that brings together experts in key relevant areas – the social sciences, the mathematical sciences, and computer science – to map out the foundations of social data science.

Social data science represents an exciting opportunity both for the Alan Turing Institute and for the UK science base more broadly. Until now, the field has been largely led by US researchers, under the auspices of computational social science. Given the large quantities of well-curated social data in the UK, we have a great opportunity to contribute to the leadership of this field. Building up social data science into a vibrant stream of data science research, which builds our understanding of human behaviour and informs interventions geared at changing it, will provide the Institute with a unique competitive advantage.

In order to pursue this goal, the workshop will focus on three key themes:

  1. It will explore ways that large-scale data can be modeled to form our understanding of individual human behaviour, and identifying the novel mathematics and algorithms to do so;
  2. Using and developing state-of-the-art quantitative methods, it will explore the complex relationship between large-scale social networks of influence & interaction, and behaviour;
  3. It will identify new experimental methods and designs that can bring causal inference and inform interventions at scale in the setting of social data science.

This workshop is a part of workshops presented with the Alan Turing Institute.


Start End Schedule
09:00:00 09:30:00 Registration and Coffee
09:30:00 09:45:00 Welcome and Introductions
09:45:00 10:15:00 Social Data Science and the Alan Turing Institute

Professor Helen Margetts

10:15:00 10:45:00 Understanding Individual Human Behaviour

Professor Melinda Mills

10:45:00 11:45:00 Discussion
11:45:00 12:00:00 Coffee Break
12:00:00 12:30:00 Social Networks at Scale

Professor Patrick Wolfe

12:30:00 13:30:00 Discussion
13:30:00 14:30:00 Lunch
14:30:00 15:00:00 Experiments as Data Science

Professor Peter John

15:00:00 16:00:00 Discussion
16:00:00 16:20:00 Coffee Break
16:20:00 17:50:00 Round Table & Closing Discussion on the Social Data Science Landscape and the ATI’s Role
17:50:00 19:00:00 Drinks Reception