New Grad Program Dives into Emerging Fields of Big Data and Network Science $3 million NSF grant empowers UC Santa Barbara graduate students to train for research of complex social, biological and computer networks in the new era of Big Data.
A message appears on a profile of a popular social network in a country suffering from political unrest. Seconds later it is repeated on another profile, and then another, and another. Within minutes the message spreads to hundreds, even thousands of profiles, from a core group of closely related users, to loosely affiliated contacts. Before the day is out, people are in the streets chanting for the end of the regime and those in power are seriously considering their next steps. Somewhere else in the world, a child begins to sniffle and cough. Thinking it a minor bug, her mother sends her to school anyway, and then to day care after that. Within days the child's classmates are getting sick and by week's end a serious epidemic is underway, shutting down schools, slowing down business and causing flights to be canceled.
How did these events unfold? Where is the tipping point? Is it possible to predict the next event, and can they be controlled, prevented or in some cases engineered? These questions, and many like these, are what researchers at UC Santa Barbara are asking within the burgeoning field of network science.