Strategic Behavior and the Science of Social Networks

Michael KearnsThe modern ability to carefully measure large-scale social networks has driven new empirical studies and theoretical models of growth, dynamics, influence, and collective behavior in such systems. This emerging science is inherently interdisciplinary, with key contributions coming from sociologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and economists.

While much of the empirical investigation so far has focused on documenting social network structure or topology, less is understood about how topology *matters* — that is, in what ways social network structure influences behavior and collective outcomes. In this talk I will survey some of the progress on this topic, particularly in settings in which there is some kind of strategic or economic interaction taking place in the network. I will illustrate some of the concepts with results from an extensive series of human-subject experiments in networked interaction conducted at Penn.

Part 1

Part 2

About the Speaker:

Michael Kearns is a professor in the Computer and Information Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he holds the National Center Chair in Resource Management and Technology. Kearns is the Founding Director of Penn Engineering’s new Networked and Social Systems Engineering (NETS) Program; his co-director is Ali Jadbabaie, and the program’s curriculum chair is Zack Ives. Kearns has secondary appointments in the Statistics and Operations and Information Management (OPIM) departments of the Wharton School. He is an active member of Penn’s machine learning community PRiML, and am an affiliated faculty member of Penn’s Applied Math and Computational Science graduate program. Until July 2006 Kearns was the co-director of Penn’s interdisciplinary Institute for Research in Cognitive Science.

Kearns also works closely with a quantitative trading group at SAC Capital in New York City.

Kerns currently serves as an advisor to the companies Yodle, Wealthfront (formerly known as kaChing), PayNearMe (formerly known as Kwedit), Activate Networks, Convertro, and RootMetrics. He is also involved in the startup Hunch (recently acquired by eBay), and in the seed-stage fund Founder Collective and several of its portfolio companies. Kearns is a member of the scientific advisory board of Opera Solutions. He also occasionally serves as an expert witness/consultant on technology-related legal and regulatory cases.


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