Professor Chris A. Bail’s “The Rhythm of Communicative Styles”

May 14, 2015 – Chris A. Bail, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Duke University, presented his talk, “The Rhythm of Communicative Styles: How Advocacy Organizations Win Support from Social Media Bystanders.” Unfortunately, we do not have a video of this seminar available, but we hope to give you a quick recap of the seminar. Following a summary, we will also provide some links to Professor Bail’s paper forchrisbailpic further reading.

Professor Bail’s seminar is our first one focused on social media mining. Bail presents his research of online behavior and the way information travels within and beyond social media advocacy fields. His typology of communicative styles include cognitive, emotional, and social styles. In online behavior, he makes three key findings. They are: (1) Posts that provoke conversations with cognitive, emotional, or social communications will be more likely to inspire public approval; (2) These communicative styles are not mutually reinforcing, but rather they ebb and flow; and (3) An organization’s difference in style based on the communicative ebb and flow of the social media advocacy field can result in better virality.

In Professor Bail’s data mining toolkit includes mining Facebook for information of online user activity. Using automated content analysis, he was able to determine percentage of words in all Facebook comments on social media organization’s pages and classify the texts based on “cognitive,” “emotional,” or “social” categories. He then mapped these comments across time and demonstrated a pattern of ebb and flow across the communicative styles.

Professor Bail’s research shows a unique way of harnessing the power of text mining and machine learning methods to make informative descriptions of social phenomenons. If you would like to check out more of work, hop over to his website. If you would like to read more of Professor Bail’s work, we recommend starting out with his Theory and Society article, “The Cultural Environment,” or American Sociological Review article, “The Fringe Effect.” (Please note: You will need access or subscription to the journals to read the articles.)

Professor Chris Bail to Present in Spring 2015

March 9, 2015 – This Spring, we will be hosting one seminar. Professor Christopher A. Bail of the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill will be giving his talk titled, “The Rhythm of Communicative Styles: How Advocacy Organizations Win Support from Social Media Bystanders.” chrisbailpic

Professor Bail is a well-published sociologist whose work appeared in American Sociological ReviewSociological Theory, Theory and Society, and Sociological Methods and Research. His research has also been covered by major media outlets including NBC News, National Public Radio, the Huffington Post, and Salon.

Like all of our other events, this seminar is free and open to the public. Please register at

Professor Nicholas Petraco’s “Quantitative Criminalistics”

April 25, 2014 –Nicholas Petraco, Associate Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, presented his talk, “Quantitative Criminalistics: Application of State-of-the-Art Machine Learning and Computational Statistics to Catching Bad Gnickp_pic2uys.”

Trained in applied mathematics and quantum chemistry, Professor Petraco’s research focuses on the application of rigorous science to the law and litigation. His research has been profiled in the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, C&E News, and The New Scientist.

In his presentation, Professor Petraco reviewed how data mining can be used in applied forensics. He shows how the combination of Bayesian and non-Bayesian techniques can offer data miners new ways to measure performance of data mining models, and how these measurements are essential in their application in law and court. Finally, he shows examples from his own research including the analysis of fingerprints, shoe prints, and chemicals.

If you missed the seminar, you can still catch it here:


Introduction to Directed Acyclic Graphs

March 21, 2014 – Dave Monaghan, Darren Kwong, and Dirk Witteveen, graduate candidates at the Graduate Center, CUNY, presented their seminar, “Advances in Quantitative Methods: An Introduction to Directed Acyclic Graphs.”

In their presentation, they reviewed some of the assumptions that plague the counterfactual model and showed how recent research on directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) can help with problems of identification of causal effects between variables. Ultimately, DAGs demonstrate that researchers need to be careful of what variables they include in their analysis and provide researchers a more rigorous approach to building their analytical models.

If you missed this seminar, you can catch it here:

Dr. Graham Williams’ Workshop “Excavating Knowledge from Data”

March 7, 2014 – Graham Williams, Data Scientist at the Australian Taxation Office and Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University, led a workshop titled, “Excavating Knowledge from Data: Introducing Data Mining Using R.” Dr. Williams is the author of the Rattle software for data mining and of the Rattle book, Data Mining with Rattle and R: The Art of Excavating Knowledge from DataGraham_Williams_pic

During the workshop, Dr. Williams shared insight about the many uses of data mining. He provided live tutorials of how to prepare data and run models using R and, more specifically, Rattle. This workshop is a great introduction on data mining for anybody interested in learning R coding.

If you missed Dr. Williams’ workshop, you can watch the recording of it by clicking on the links below. Additionally, handouts of the workshop are also provided. We ask if you find the workshop or the handouts useful to your work that you properly cite his recording or materials, which he has graciously allowed us to share on our website. If you would like more information about Dr. Williams and his work, be sure to check out his website:

Part 1 of 4 of workshop:

Part 2 of 4 of workshop:

Part 3 of 4 of workshop:

Part 4 of 4 of workshop:

Handouts: Handouts for Workshop on Rattle and R

Professor Paul Attewell’s “How much social structure is there?”

February 21, 2014 – Paul Attewell, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY, presented his talk, “How much social structure is there? The challenge presented by Data Mining.” Professor Attewell’s recent research focuses on non-elite college students and the barriers that they face and is funded by the Gates Foundatpaul_attewell_picion. He is also PI on the NSF-funded “CUNY Data Mining Initiative.”

In his presentation, Professor Attewell discussed how data mining methods can benefit social science research. He argued that while traditional statistical methods still leave substantial unexplained variance, data mining methods have higher accuracy and prediction rates. How much data mining methods improve on sociological methods? Can data mining uncover hidden structure that traditional statistical techniques could not? These are questions that Professor Attewell raised.

If you were unable to attend the event, you can still catch the seminar here:



Professor Hanghang Tong’s “Optimal Dissemination on Graphs: Theory and Algorithms”

November 22, 2013 – Hanghang Tong, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the City College of the City University of New York, presented his talk, “OptimHanghang Tong - pical Dissemination on Graphs: Theory and Algorithms.” Professor Tong’s research is focused on large scale data mining for graphs and multimedia and has received multiple rewards including best paper award in CIKM 2012 and has published 70 referred articles and more than 20 patents.

In the seminar, Professor Tong talked about his research on graph mining. The techniques discussed are pertinent to studies of networks, such as how rumors spread or how viral marketing expands. Professor Tong offers some insights on how these graphs can be mapped and the math behind it.

If you missed the seminar or would like to review it, you can do so here: