On Modeling Information Flow and Belief Dynamics

Presenter: Tarek Abdelzaher, Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Slides: https://uofi.app.box.com/s/age4fipx6nmo5yzjvq4pz5spwwz48l86

Video: https://uofi.app.box.com/s/ukkwfexqrmg9madj00qf6sq9xw5qjh7x


The proliferation of social media in the last decade significantly changed the landscape of information flow in the 21st century, and with it the dynamics of human beliefs. Information has become weaponized but the effects of the new weapon, as well as the corresponding mitigation strategies, remain poorly understood. Unlike kinetic effects that have well-developed physical models, the mathematical theory of effects in the information space remains less mature. This talk attempts to bridge the gap by discussing recent developments in modeling the joint dynamics of information propagation and belief evolution in a world marked by democratized broadcast and information overload. Implications of the new models are discussed, demonstrating how they explain the growth of polarization and the increased susceptibility to disinformation. Validation and applications of these models based, in part, on Twitter data are presented and conclusions are drawn on gaps and opportunities in the information operation space.


Tarek Abdelzaher received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, in 1990 and 1994 respectively. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1999 on Quality of Service Adaptation in Real-Time Systems. He has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, where he founded the Software Predictability Group. He is currently a Professor and Willett Faculty Scholar at the Department of Computer Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He has authored/coauthored more than 300 refereed publications in real-time computing, distributed systems, sensor networks, and control. He served as an Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Real-Time Systems, and as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Embedded Systems Letters, the ACM Transaction on Sensor Networks, and the Ad Hoc Networks Journal. He chaired (as Program or General Chair) several conferences in his area including RTAS, RTSS, IPSN, Sensys, DCoSS, ICDCS, and ICAC. Abdelzahers research interests lie broadly in understanding and influencing performance and temporal properties of networked embedded, social and software systems in the face of increasing complexity, distribution, and degree of interaction with an external physical environment. Tarek Abdelzaher is a recipient of the IEEE Outstanding Technical Achievement and Leadership Award in Real-time Systems (2012), the Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2011), as well as several best paper awards. He is a fellow of IEEE and ACM.