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Social networks on the ground and in the clouds (Funded by the QUEX Institute)

The Graduate School

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Dr A Rahimi No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

People don’t live in a flat society, they live in overlapping and interconnected communities sharing attributes such as geography, language, identity, and political opinion. Online communities mirror offline ones and are highly influential in determining how information is propagated and how opinion is shaped. The goal of this project is to utilise both linguistic clues and online social interactions to identify the social and linguistic structure of communities, their interactions and how these communities influence and shape opinions. Hidden factors that determine why users connect to each other on social media will be inferred and used to detect and measure communities, improving on traditional graph-based community detection methods.

The communication within and between these communities will be studied to understand the spread of cultural and linguistic innovation and how information and political ideas travel along these networks. For example, we are interested in studying the relationship between the core and the periphery, like London and the North of England or Sydney and Western Australia, answering questions like: How do the concerns of people in the periphery reach decision and policy makers in the core? How does culture like news, memes and hashtags spread around these networks? What biases do people in the core have about the periphery and vice-versa?

This will advance our knowledge on how information spreads and provide tools to magnify marginalised voices. The ideal student for this project will have both a keen interest in social and political issues as well as a strong technical background which they will build on in this project, becoming experts in NLP, network analysis and deep learning techniques.

Funding Notes

This scholarship includes a living stipend of AUD $28,092 (2020) tax free, indexed annually, tuition fees and Overseas Student Health Cover (where applicable). A travel grant of AUD $8,500 per annum, and a training grant of AUD $3,000 are also available over the program.

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