Google Award to Support Network Research

Professors Evimaria Terzi and Azer Bestavros of the BU Department of Computer Science have been selected to receive a Google Faculty Research Award in support of  their research on “Generalized Centrality Measures with Applications to Information Networks.” Prof. Bestavros is the Founding Director of the Hariri Institute, and Prof. Terzi is a member of the Institute.

In this work, Evimaria and Azer, along with doctoral students Dora Erdos and  Vatche Ishakian, are  developing new techniques for measuring the importance of small groups within a larger network. In particular, their work is analyzing ways to measure importance of groups in flow and access networks. Flow networks are used to study information propagation in social and media networks, whereas access networks are used to study user navigation and browsing patterns. These measures of importance are typically termed “centrality,” in the sense that the more important a node is, the more central it is within the network, just as the most important streets in a city are considered more central.

Traditionally, different measures of centrality have been defined for individual nodes and links. Such measures enable applications to compare nodes and links to each other with respect to a particular interesting property of the network. Other applications may need to assess the centrality of groups within the network. For example, interesting questions might include “What is the best group of nodes to carry out inspection, monitoring, sampling, aggregation, or de-duplication in a content flow network?”  or “What is the minimum group of nodes to intercept all possible communication between a specific set of sources and destinations?”

To answer these and many similar questions, the team will define ways to express statements about group centrality for flow and access networks, and develop algorithmic techniques that can  be implemented for use on large-scale networks.

The Google Research Awards program aims to identify and support world-class, full-time faculty pursuing research in areas of mutual interest. The intent of the awards program is to support academic research aimed at improving information access (defined broadly).