derek ruths || network dynamics


I’m an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science at McGill University where I run the Network Dynamics Lab.

In my research, I’m interested in using online social data to measure and predict large-scale human behavior.


2015.03.31 – Talk @ Public Safety Canada Workshop

Spoke about the uses (and challenges) in using social media to understand unfolding disasters.

2015.03.09 – Papers accepted to ICWSM 2015

We had four papers accepted to ICWSM this year. Congratulations to David Jurgens, James McCorriston, Stefan Dimitrov, Tyler Finnethy, and Caitrin Armstrong!

2014.11.27 – Perspective on Social Media for Large Studies of Behavior published in Science

Jurgen Pfeffer and I highlighted the challenges and pitfalls researchers must consider when working with social media data at large-scale.

2014.11.25 – Talk from CUSEC 2014 available online

At CUSEC this past year, I gave a talk highlighting why every computer scientist should learn about networks.

2014.10.17 – Paper accepted @ SITIS 2014: Reachability-based Robustness of Network Controllability under Node and Edge Attacks

Masters student Deven Parekh, collaborator Prof. Justin Ruths, and I present a new model of control robustness that more accurately captures the cost to control of network changes.

2014.09.15 – Paper accepted @ EMNLP 2014 Workshop: Twitter Users #CodeSwitch Hashtags!

Post-doc David Jurgens, Masters student Stefan Dimitrov, and I explore the properties of tweets (and users) that code-switch hashtags.

2014.06.27 – Invited talk @ ACL 2014 Satellite Workshop

At the ACL workshop on Social Dynamics and Personal Attributes in Social Media, discussed the major open questions in the field of latent attribute inference, particularly where social media is concerned.

2014.06.02 – Invited talk @ NetSci 2014 Satellite Workshop

Discussed the different ways that researchers have approach understanding the control structures of complex networks.

2014.05.14 – Presentations @ HumTech 2014

Spoke about two new papers out of my lab (here and here) that focus on giving a concrete picture of what information Twitter actually contains about disasters.

2014.02.24 – Paper on control of complex systems published in Science

Our paper proposes a new network statistic that characterizes the structures responsible in the system for determining where it will need to be driven by controls.

2014.01.29 – Invited talk @ Stanford RAIN Symposium

Spoke at the symposium on Research on Algorithms and Incentives in Networks about controllability in complex systems. Thanks to Jure Leskovec who hosted me.

2014.01.24 – Invited talk @ CMU CS Department

I had the opportunity to present work, forthcoming in Science, on the controllability of complex networks. Thanks to Christos Faloutsos who made my visit possible.

2014.01.10 – Invited talk @ MIT Media Lab

In addition to giving my talk, I had an opportunity to tour the labs and meet with a number of the faculty there. Thanks to Ankur, Sandy, Cesar, and others who made my visit possible.

2014.01.09 – Invited talk @ Northeastern University

Visited the Computer Science Department, met with a number of colleagues, and spoke about the promises and challenges involved in the problem of inferring latent attributes of users of online social platforms.

2013.12.07 – Invited talk @ Digital Humanities Workshop

Participated in a digital humanities workshop at Rice University on the handling, parsing, and analysis of ephemera. Spoke about the power of crowd-sourcing for annotating text.

2013.10.22 – Invited talk @ Microsoft Research

Enjoyed a great visit hosted by Emre Kiciman. Spoke about the promise of demographic inference in social media and had a day of really stimulating discussions.

2013.10.19 – Poster @ EMNLP 2013

Morgane Ciot, an undergraduate in the lab and first author on our EMNLP paper, presented our work on multi-language gender inference at the poster session.

2013.10.11 – Invited talk @ Dartmouth Interdisciplinary Network Research Group

A presentation on a model that combines different network formation mechanisms generated a broader discussion about the connection between such mechanisms and the underlying (actual) social processes.

2013.10.04 – Presentation @ WIN 2013

I discussed recent work we’ve done which provides strong support for the idea that Twitter can be used to form echo chambers for political discourse – but that not everyone creates them.

2013.08.28 – Paper accepted to EMNLP 2013

Our paper shows how existing work on demographic inference can be extended to handle social media users who use languages besides English – including French, Turkish, Indonesian, and Japanese.

2013.06.26 – Ran data mining workshop @ Political Networks 2013

Course focused on collecting and analyzing Twitter data, but also touched on other social media platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, and Reddit.

2013.05.21 – Ran Twitter workshop @ Sunbelt 2013

Participants learned how to collect Twitter data as well as techniques including hashtag popularity measurement, sentiment analysis, and linguistic classification. The course material is available online!

2013.02.28 – Public Safety Canada funds project researching disaster management

The funding received will support work into monitoring and measuring large-scale responses on Twitter to man-made and natural disasters, aiming to improve government response and support.

2012.12.22 – Paper accepted to CompleNet 2013

Our paper explores the idea of how robustly controllable networks are, offering a new way of understanding the structure of real and random networks.

2012.11.21 – Paper accepted to BMC Bioinformatics

The accepted paper performs the first comprehensive study of the role of different topological features in biological robustness. Congratulations to first author, Faiyaz Zamal!

2012.11.16 – Twitter workshop accepted to the Sunbelt Social Networks Conference

The accepted tutorial, “Studying human behavior on Twitter,” will cover everything from collecting tweets through analyzing content and networks.

2012.11.07 – Paper accepted to Symposium on Analyzing Microtext

Our accepted paper is called “What’s in a name? Using first names as features for gender inference in Twitter.” Congrats to first author, Wendy Liu!

2012.11.04 – Released interactive website: 2012 US Election in Tweets

We mined 10+ million tweets talking about the US presidential election and evaluated the relative popularity of different topics and candidates.

2012.10.11 – Paper on submission flows published in Science

Our paper analyzed the late submission history of 80,000+ articles and found, among other things, evidence that peer-review works: formerly rejected papers process garnered more citations.

2012.09.29 – Presented posters at WIN 2012

I presented results for two separate projects done by two of my students on demographic inference on Twitter and studies of how people interpret network visualizations.

2012.09.13 – Released iPhone 5 infographic

Two of my students, Raviv and Morgane, and I conducted an analysis of the response of Twitter users to the iPhone 5 announcement event.

2012.07.02 – Invited talk @ NEH Seminar

Invited talk at the Communication, Empire, and the City of Rome seminar. Discussed opportunities for using network science to study ancient cultures and civilizations.

2012.06.16 – Talk @ Political Networks Conference

Talk on how FEC campaign contribution data can be used to learn about how members of different occupations give differently (e.g., scales of contributions, candidates, and timing).

2012.06.08 – Talk @ Canadian Government Security Round-table

Invited talk entitled “Social Media and Social Mobilization” at the Cross-cultural Security Roundtable organized by Public Safety Canada.

2012.06.07 – Launched ICWSM Data Sharing Initiative

As co-Data Chair for ICWSM this year, I launched a service so that authors of papers published at ICWSM can share their datasets through an ICWSM-run service.

2012.06.04 – Talk and poster @ ICWSM

2012.05.30 – Computational Social Science Workshop @ Harvard

I ran a full day workshop/tutorial on using Twitter for studying social and political phenomena. We covered everything from how to collect data to how to measure sentiment of tweets.

2012.05.09 – Talk @ Sage Workshop

Presented the Zen python network library to the Sage community.

2012.04.23 – Biological Control Workshop @ Bellairs Research Institute

With Mathieu Blanchette and Jackie Vogel, ran a week-long workshop on the control and biological systems ranging from subcellular machinery all the way up to ecosystems.