2013-2014 Events

Annual Theme: Complex Networks


DataFest 2014

Apr 4 - 6, 2014
A weekend-long data analysis competition hosted by the Institute of Quantitative Theory and Methods and developed by the American Statistical Association. We give you the data set; you draw the interesting insights. 2014 was the inaugural year for ASA DataFest at Emory.

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Graduate Student Meet N Greets

Structural Equation Modeling (SEM)

Monday Apr 28, 2014
A Gradate Student Meet N' Greet that emphasized structural modeling strategies to understand relationships in data. Speakers:  Lu Dong (Psychology), Shanna Ricketts (Educational Studies), Chris Martin (Sociology).

Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM)

Monday Feb 3, 2014
A Gradate Student Meet N' Greet that focused on hierarchical linear modeling techniques. Speakers:  Chris Martin (Sociology), Adrienne Walker (Educational Studies), Brittany Robinson (Psychology) Anne Winiarski (Psychology).

Complex Networks

Monday Oct 28, 2013
A Gradate Student Meet N' Greet that addressed complex data network techniques, in keeping with the QTM annual theme. Speakers: Christina Mehta (Biostatistics), Christine Klymko (Math/CS), Nicholas Calvn (Psychology).

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Speaker Series

Annual Theme Series: Complex Networks

Melanie Mitchell, Department of Computer Science, Portland State University

Using Analogy to Discover the Meaning of Images
Wednesday Apr 9, 2014
Talk Abstract. Enabling computers to understand images remains one of the hardest open problems in artificial intelligence. No machine vision system comes close to matching human ability at identifying the contents of images or visual scenes or at recognizing similarity between different scenes, even though such abilities pervade human cognition. In this talk I will describe research--currently in early stages--on bridging the gap between low-level perception and higher-level image understanding by integrating a cognitive model of pattern recognition and analogy-making with a neural model of the visual cortex. This event was co-hosted by QTM, the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture (CMBC), and the Department of Biology.

Podcast Available ▸
Amanda Murdie, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri

Help or Hindrance? The Role of Humanitarian Military Interventions in Human Security NGO Operations
Wednesday Mar 5, 2014
Talk Abstract. How do humanitarian military interventions influence the work of NGOs?  Previous work has found that the joint presence of military and NGO actors is essential for the fulfillment of the most complex human security tasks after humanitarian disasters, like improvements in government human rights performance and  economic development.  NGOs were better able to fulfill their human security objectives when humanitarian military interventions were present, arguably because military interveners provide logistical support that aids in collaboration between various humanitarian actors, including NGOs, and because military interveners provide security. In this piece, we use both network analysis methods to examine the process through which military interventions improve the ability of NGOs to connect to each other and econometric methods to examine the ways in which interventions influence the violence NGOs face from domestic actors.  Using a dataset of over 2,500 human security organizations involved in states with a history of humanitarian disasters, we find that human security NGOs involved in countries where there is a humanitarian military intervention benefit in terms of their network ties to other NGOs. This event was co-hosted by QTM and the Department of Political Science.

Recording Available ▸
Peter Mucha, Department of Mathematics, UNC Chapel Hill

Communities in Networks
Friday Feb 7, 2014
Talk Abstract. Network science is an interdisciplinary endeavor with methods and applications drawn from across the natural, social, and information sciences. A prominent problem in network science is the algorithmic detection of tightly connected groups of nodes known as communities. Community detection has been used successfully in a number of applications, some of which we highlight in this talk. We also discuss the extension of community detection to multilayer networks, a general framework that allows studies of community structures in networks that change over time and/or have multiple types of links. No prior knowledge about community detection in networks will be assumed for this presentation. This event was co-sponsored by QTM and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Recording Available ▸
Aaron Batista, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh

Neural Constraints on Learning
Friday Jan 24, 2014
Talk Abstract. Why are some behaviors easier to learn than others? New behaviors must require new patterns of neural activity. Some new neural activity patterns must be easier to generate than others, but what makes the difference? We use the paradigm of a closed-loop brain-computer interface to encourage animals to exhibit new patterns of neural activity. We find that the extent to which a novel brain-to-behavior mapping can be learned is a function of the current state of the network of neurons controlling behavior. This means that the ease or difficulty with which we can learn new behaviors might be determined by interactions among networks of neurons. This event was co-sponsored by QTM and the Graduate Neuroscience Program in the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

No Recording
Kanaka Rajan, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University

Generation of Sequences Through Reconfiguration of Ongoing Activity in Neural Networks: A Model of Choice-Specific Cortical Dynamics in Virtual Navigation
Wednesday Nov 20, 2013
Talk Abstract. Complex timing tasks are the basis for experiments identifying the neural correlates of behaviors like memory-based decision making in brain areas like the posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Recently, cellular-resolution imaging of neural activity in PPC during a virtual memory-guided 2-alternative forced choice task [Harvey, Coen & Tank, 2012] showed that individual neurons had transient activation staggered relative to one another in time, forming a sequence spanning the entire duration of the task. Motivated by these results, our goal here is to develop a computational framework that reconciles the emergence of biologically realistic assemblies or trajectories of activity states, with the ability of the same neural population to translate sensory information into long time-scale behaviors. To this end, we build an echo state network to test our hypothesis that during memory- based decision making, sensory cues set up an initial network state that follows the intrinsic dynamics of the brain area to generate activity underlying a behavioral response. This event was co-hosted by QTM, Emory-Georgia Tech Training Program in Computational Neuroscience (CNTG), and the Department of Physics.

No Recording
Rachel Kranton, Department of Economics, Duke University

Strategic Interaction and Networks
Tuesday Nov 5, 2013
Talk Abstract. A presentation was about the following paper: this paper brings a general network analysis to a wide class of games, including strategic innovation, public goods, investment, and social interactions. The major interest, and challenge, is seeing how network structure shapes outcomes. We have a striking result. Equilibrium conditions depend on a single number: the lowest eigenvalue of a network matrix. When the graph is sufficiently tight (as measured by this eigenvalue), there is a unique equilibrium. When it is loose, stable equilibria always involve extreme play where some agents take no actions at all. We combine tools from potential games, optimization, and spectral graph theory to solve for all Nash and stable equilibria. This paper is the first to uncover the importance of the lowest eigenvalue to social and economic outcomes, and we relate this measure to different network link patterns. This event was co-sponsored by QTM and the Department of Economics.

Recording Available ▸
Alessandro Vespignani, Department of Physics, Northeastern University

Modeling and Forecast of Socio-Technical Systems in the Data-Science Age
Wednesday Oct 16, 2013
Talk Abstract. In recent years the increasing availability of computer power and informatics tools has enabled the gathering of reliable data quantifying the complexity of socio-technical systems. Data-driven computational models have emerged as appropriate tools to tackle the study of contagion and diffusion processes as diverse as epidemic outbreaks, information spreading and Internet packet routing. These models aim at providing a rationale for understanding the emerging tipping points and nonlinear properties that often underpin the most interesting characteristics of socio-technical systems. Here, I review some of the recent progress in modeling contagion and epidemic processes that integrates the complex features of heterogeneities of real-world systems. This event was co-hosted by QTM and the Department of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics.

No Recording
Caroline Buckee, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard University

Challenges in Modeling Malaria Parasite Infection Dynamics and Evolution for Elimination Planning
This event was co-sponsored by QTM and the Department of Biology.

No Recording

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Quantitative Humanities Series

Matthew Jockers, Department of English, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Computing the Shape of Stories: A Macroanalysis
Monday Apr 14, 2014
Talk Abstract. Jockers opened his lecture with an argument about the applicability of quantitative methods to literary studies. He offered his answer to the "so what" question that is frequently asked by humanists who are unaccustomed to thinking about literature as data on the one hand and quantitative evidence on the other. After sketching the broad outlines of how quantitative data might and should be employed in literary studies, Jockers moved to a "proof of concept" derived from his own recent work charting plot structure in 40,000 narratives. In this section, Jockers discussed how he employed tools and techniques from natural language processing, sentiment analysis, signal processing, and machine learning in order to extract and compare the plot structures of novels in a corpus of texts spanning the two hundred year period from 1800-2011. He explored the six core plot archetypes revealed by the technique and how these shapes change from the 19th to the 20th century. He then compared the plot structures of 1,800 contemporary best sellers to the larger corpus in order to suggest that at least one element of market success is related to plot shape. This event was co-sponsored by QTM, the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), and the Department of History.

Recording Available ▸
Ted Underwood, Department of English, University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign

Beyond Tools: The Shared Questions about Interpretation that Link Computer Science to the Humanities
Wednesday Mar 26, 2014
Talk Abstract. The phrase "digital humanities" suggests an encounter with digital technology itself -- which might involve departments of computer science only indirectly, as creators of tools. But as collaborations between humanists and computer scientists grow more common, it's becoming clear that these disciplines are working in parallel on shared, surprisingly fundamental questions. For instance, computer scientists want to understand how we learn to generalize about latent categories from limited evidence, which is a good part of what humanists do when we "interpret an archive" or "develop a theory." Instead of treating CS as a source of tools, some humanists are starting to approach the discipline as a theoretical interlocutor, analogous to linguistics or anthropology. What might that conversation look like concretely? I'll flesh out some possibilities, briefly describing collaborative research on literary character with David Bamman (CS, Carnegie Mellon), and reflecting more generally on the humanistic value of model-building. I'll also acknowledge some of the social divisions that make this conversation risky. Cohosted by QTM, the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), and the Department of History.

Recording Available ▸
Peter Bol, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Geography, Networks, and Prosopography in China's History
Wednesday Nov 6, 2013
Talk Abstract. The China Historical GIS (covering 221 BCE-1911CE) and the China Biographical Database (300,000 figures mainly from the 7th-early 20th century) provide data for new approaches to China's history. Yet, the methodologies for compiling, organizing, and analyzing this data requires historians to make conceptual leaps from the time-worn and familiar to the profoundly different. This event was co-sponsored by QTM, the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), and the Department of History.

Recording Available ▸

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Visiting Fellow Speaker Series

Jason Fletcher, Institute for Research on Poverty,  University of Wisconsin-Madison

Understanding Heterogeneous Effects of Health Policies Using a Gene-Environment Interaction Framework
Tuesday Jun 4, 2013
Talk Abstract. This talk outlines a research agenda that combines genetic and social science concepts, methodologies, and data to pursue new insights in understanding the impacts of environments and policies on human behavior.  The primary example of this agenda will focus on new results suggesting a gene-environment interaction in responses to tobacco control policies.  Based on variation in a nicotinic receptor gene, I find that some individuals have no behavioral response to tobacco taxation, suggesting a novel gene-policy interaction.  This finding has implications for how we understand the mechanisms of specific health policies and how we might consider introducing new policies to further reduce tobacco consumption.  I also show preliminary evidence of additional gene-environment (policy) interactions with alcohol policies and experiences of economic downturns. The event was co-hosted by QTM and the Department of Economics.

Recording Available ▸

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QSS Major Events

Real-World Applications for the Quantitative Social Sciences

Wednesday Sept 25, 2013
The QTM Institute invited undergraduate students to discover precisely what the new QSS major will offer. Students heard short presentations from people in academia, business, the non-profit sector, and government. Speakers included representatives from Adobe, IBM, the Defense Department, Ernst &emp; Young, Government, the Emory Law School, the Goizueta Business School, and from the departments of Anthropology, Biostatistics, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

Business: Adobe

Joe Walker (Senior Consultant, Marketing Analytics, Adobe Software Systems)

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Business: IBM

Speaker: Felecia Kornegay (Client Manager, IBM)

Recording Available ▸
Business: Q.U.E.S.T.

Speaker: Nicole Miller (Manager, Quantitative Economics & Statistics (QUEST), Ernst & Young)

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Law: The Emory Law School

Speaker: Sue Payne (Professor & Executive Director, Center for Transactional Law and Practice, Emory University)

Recording Available ▸
Academia: Anthropology

Speaker: James Rilling (James Rilling, Department of Anthropology, Emory University)

Recording Available ▸
Academia: Economics

Speaker:Christopher Curran (Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Emory University)

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Academia: Political Science

Speaker: Jennifer Gandhi (Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Emory University)

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Non-Profit: Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Speaker: Dana Rickman (Director of Policy & Research, GA Partnership for Excellence in Education)

Recording Available ▸

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Large-Scale Topic Analysis with Mallet

Thursday Apr 10, 2014
Over the last ten years, we have seen the creation of massive digital text collections, from Twitter feeds to million-book libraries. At the same time, researchers have developed text-mining methods that go beyond simple word frequency analysis to uncover thematic patterns. This workshop introduced participants to topic modeling through hands-on tutorials using the Mallet package and the R statistical language. After a theoretical presentation of the method, we discussed inference and model training, data preparation techniques such as stoplist curation and text segmentation, model analysis techniques in the presence of metadata, and finally, model diagnostics. Led by Dr. David Mimno.

Collecting Social Science and Public Health Data with Qualtrics

Monday Feb 3, 2014
Qualtrics (emory.qualtrics.com) is an application to collect and analyze survey data. Qualtrics has many advanced features, which make it a more useful and efficient tool than SurveyMonkey and other competitors. This workshop introduced participants to these features. Participants also learned how to integrate Qualtrics with Amazon Mechanical Turk. Led by Chris Martin.

Networks from the Real World

Dec 2-3, 2013
Participants had the opportunity to work with real-world networks from different scenarios and make calculations of the parameters studies, as well as visualize these networks. Led by Dr. Ernesto Estrada.

Atlanta Workshop on Computational Social Science

Wednesday Oct 9, 2013
As computing grows ever more embedded into daily life, computational techniques can now be applied to shed insight on basic social science questions. At the same time, the increasingly social aspect of computing means that technologists must wrestle with and understand social science principles. The emerging cross-disciplinary field of computational social science addresses these challenges and opportunities, combining computational methods applications with social science theory and research.
On November 8, 2013, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology convened an all-day workshop for exchanging research ideas in this exciting new area. The program included distinguished visiting speakers, oral presentations from local researchers, and an interactive poster session. Co-sponsored by QTM, Georgia Tech's GVU Center, and Emory's Mathematics and Computer Science Department.

How to Collect Social and Health Data with Mechanical Turk and Qualtrics

Wednesday Oct 9, 2013
Mechanical Turk, or MTurk, is a low-cost service provided by Amazon that allows researchers to collect survey data from people around the world. Social, psychological, and health researchers have used MTurk extensively in the past five years to gather survey data or implement simple experiments. In this workshop, participants learned how to efficiently use MTurk in combination with Qualtrics to implement a study. Participants also learned the advantages and drawbacks of Mechanical Turk and what online resources can keep your MTurk knowledge up to date. The workshop included a hands-on implementation of a survey. Led by Chris Martin.

Research Design in Anthropological Studies

Sept 25-27, 2013
This workshop was about writing effective research proposals. We began with the basics of research design, including units of analysis, measurement, independent and dependent variables, validity, reliability, and cause and effect. We covered sampling (probability and nonprobability sampling) and methods for collecting and analyzing data. Throughout, the focus was on research design - that is: formulating a research question, tying the question to existing knowledge or theory, developing hypotheses, and laying out the methods for testing the hypotheses. The objective was to produce intellectually convincing, fundable research proposals at the Ph.D.-level of study. Led by Dr. Russell Bernard.

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