Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rahwan, I., Dsouza, S., Rutherford, A., Naroditskiy, V., McInerney, J., Venanzi, M., Jennings, N., Cebrian M. (2012) "Global Manhunt Pushes the Limits of Social Mobilization", Computer, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 68-75, April, 2013

And to compound the honor of our social mobilization work being published in PNAS, we also had work on a related topic published in IEEE Computer magazine this month. It was complemented in the same issue by an editorial piece "Equal Before the Bar", written by David Alan Grier himself, in which he describes his role in our victory, and why it is significant to the field of study. This one was about the US State Department Tag Challenge, a social mobilization challenge that our lab played a leading role in winning as Team CrowdScanner (web application developed by me for the challenge).

From the article:
Using social media and only the targets’ mug shots, a team competing in the
US State Department-sponsored Tag Challenge located three of five targeted
people in five cities in the US and Europe in less than 12 hours.
The Tag Challenge was significantly harder than the
Red Balloon Challenge because it required locating people
in highly populated cities, where the pace of life can help
people “hide in plain sight,”
 and making it much more difficult to spot the suspects than to find large red balloons.
Furthermore, people are mobile, making it difficult to rule
out locations that have already been visited.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Turkish Delights at the STUCK Cast Party

To celebrate the successful staging of our short play, STUCK (written by Kamlesh Acharya, and for which he and I were nominated in Backstage Awards categories for best short play writer and best short play director, respectively), I held a cast party at my place. True to form, I turned it into a culinary exploration opportunity, selecting Turkish as the theme of the night.

For the appetizer, I prepared Pancar Ezme, a beetroot and yoghurt dip, which we scooped up with garlic toasted bread. Definitely the hit of the night.

The soup course consisted of Mahluta Corbasi, a red lentil soup that was similar the Ethiopian Mesir Wat that I like to make.

The entree course was Dolma, a hearty dish of tomato stuffed with a cooked mixture of rice and tomato pulp.

For the main, I made lamb kofta and served it on a bed of fattoush.

And for dessert, I baked Sekerpare, a semolina-and-flour cookie with syrup.

Rutherford, A., Cebrian, M., Dsouza, S., Moro, E., Pentland, A., Rahwan, I. (2013) "Limits of Social Mobilization", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The PNAS paper is finally out, with me as third author. All of us are elated, of course, as PNAS is one of the top scientific publications. This project has also been the subject of a 2012 NetSci conference presentation and a 2012 WIDS workshop poster, so our team has been into it for a while now.

Masdar Press Release:
Abu Dhabi-UAE: 18 April, 2013 – Time-critical social mobilization is the ability of social networks to mobilize rapidly to address challenges such as disaster response or finding a missing child.
While social media is a very effective tool for mobilizing volunteers, it still has its limits, according to a research paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) journal, considered the second most-cited scientific journal in the world.
The scientific paper is a result of two years of research at the Social Computing and Artificial Intelligence laboratory, led by Dr. Iyad Rahwan, Associate Professor and Head of Computing & Information Science at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.
The first author of the paper is Dr Alex Rutherford, post-doctoral fellow at Masdar Institute and member of Dr. Rahwan’s lab. The other co-authors are Prof. Alex (Sandy) Pentland of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Manuel Cebrian, from National ICT Australia, Sohan D’Souza of Masdar Institute, and Prof. Esteban Moro, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

We also got got coverage at and