Networks, crowds and markets: Foundations for formal analysis and design

Information Science 6260
Cornell University, Fall 2015

Mondays 1:25pm-4:25pm

Gates Hall

Arpita Ghosh

Information science studies systems at the juncture of people and technologies---their behavior, analysis and design. This doctoral level mixed lecture-seminar course is an introduction to the formal analysis of social systems: we will introduce concepts from mathematics, computer science and economics that are fundamental to analyzing many settings---networks, crowds, markets---studied by information science, and see how formal reasoning using abstract mathematical models can help analyze and predict outcomes. Throughout, we will draw on real-world examples such as social networks, Internet markets, and crowdsourcing to illustrate how formal analysis can inform the understanding and design of social systems.

Learning outcomes:
This is a core course for the Information Science PhD program. Students will learn the foundations of abstract mathematical modeling for the analysis of networks and information systems, and some basic techniques from mathematics, computer science and economics that are necessary to construct and utilize these models. The course will consist of a combination of lectures by the instructor, and seminar-style presentation of research papers by students. The seminar component of the course will expose students to the research literature in this area, as well as develop skills in critically evaluating and engaging with the literature.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in Information Science PhD program.

Credits: 3.

Course Information

Instructor: Arpita Ghosh

Office: 207 Gates Hall

Note: I am typically unable to respond to email due to severe RSI. Asking questions in-class, after class, or in office hours (starting September) is the best way to communicate with me.

Office hours: 3-4pm Wednesdays, Gates 207.

Course outline and schedule

(Caveat: The schedule below is tentative, and may be modified somewhat through the duration of the semester.)

This course will use material from the text Networks, crowds and markets by Easley and Kleinberg; all chapter numbers below refer to this book.


The course will be evaluated on the basis of the following components (details and guidelines for each component will be described in class). Note that class attendance is a critical component of the course since most learning will occur in class. While not explicitly assigned a percentage of total course credit, poor attendance will result in a penalty in the final grade.