Anomaly Detection for Inferring Social Structure

Anomaly Detection for Inferring Social Structure

Lisa Friedland (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-984-7.ch118
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In traditional data analysis, data points lie in a Cartesian space, and an analyst asks certain questions: (1) What distribution can I fit to the data? (2) Which points are outliers? (3) Are there distinct clusters or substructure? Today, data mining treats richer and richer types of data. Social networks encode information about people and their communities; relational data sets incorporate multiple types of entities and links; and temporal information describes the dynamics of these systems. With such semantically complex data sets, a greater variety of patterns can be described and views constructed of the data. This article describes a specific social structure that may be present in such data sources and presents a framework for detecting it. The goal is to identify tribes, or small groups of individuals that intentionally coordinate their behavior—individuals with enough in common that they are unlikely to be acting independently. While this task can only be conceived of in a domain of interacting entities, the solution techniques return to the traditional data analysis questions. In order to find hidden structure (3), we use an anomaly detection approach: develop a model to describe the data (1), then identify outliers (2).

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