Toronto Networking Seminar

Organized by Department of Computer Science and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto

Online Social Networks: Research Challenges & Results

Peter Marbach
Dept. of Computer Science University of Toronto

Date: December 2,  2:10pm
Location: BA5256 (Bahen Centre)


Online social networks have revolutionized the way we interact and share information over the Internet. Popular social networking applications include YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, which support millions of active users. While being enormously popular, these applications only scratch the surface of what is possible to do, and there are tremendous opportunities in developing new, more advanced online social networking applications. Creating such applications poses new and fascinating research problems. One of major research challenges in this domain is to develop a formal understanding of online social networks both in terms of how online social networks are formed, and how they can be used to efficiently share and distribute information. In the talk, we will discuss research aiming at creating a mathematical foundation of online social networks that provides a formal understanding and framework for the design and analysis of algorithms for online social networking applications. The first part of the talk will present a broader research agenda for online social network. The second part will focus on recent theoretical results on network formation, as well as search and trend adoption in social networks. An interesting aspect of the results that we obtain is that they provide insight into why real-life social networks are so efficient.


Peter Marbach was born in Lucerne, Switzerland. He received the Eidg. Dipl. El.-Ing. (1993) from the ETH Zurich, Switzerland, the M.S. (1994) in electrical engineering from the Columbia University, NY, U.S.A, and the Ph.D. (1998) in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. He was appointed as assistant professor in 2000, and associate professor in 2005, at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Toronto. He has also been a visiting professor at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK, at the Ecole Polytechnique Federal at Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and at the Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France, and a post-doctoral fellow at Cambridge University, UK. Peter Marbach has received the IEEE INFOCOM 2002 Best Paper Award for his paper "Priority Service and Max-Min Fairness". He was on the editorial board of the ACM/IEEE Transactions of Networking. His research interests are in the fields of communication networks, in particular in the area of wireless networks, peer-to-peer networks, and online social networks.