Keynote Talk: Tarek Abdelzaher

Social Network Data Distillation Services for Urban Spaces


The talk presents the case for social network data distillation services that enable exploitation of social networks as observers of the physical world.  Early experiences with the application of such services in urban spaces are described. According to the United Nations, today, 54% of the world population lives in cities. This percentage will increase to 66% by 2050. Arguably, humans are some of the most versatile and widely deployed “sensors” in urban spaces. They are the owners and users of “smart things” on the Internet of Things; the survivors and first-responders in post-disaster operations; the commuters in intelligent transportation applications; and the witnesses of suspicious activity in national security scenarios. These individuals may therefore relay important information on day-to-day city operation and unusual events. Social sources already volunteer over 500 million tweets and over 70 million Instagram photos per day, among many other social network outlets. This information overload motivates the development of automated services that distill a manageable amount of actionable information from large amounts of low-quality data. The talk presents initial experiences with such information distillation services that summarize social network feeds.


Tarek Abdelzaher received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, in 1990 and 1994 respectively. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1999 on Quality of Service Adaptation in Real-Time Systems. He has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, where he founded the Software Predictability Group. He is currently a Professor and Willett Faculty Scholar at the Department of Computer Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He has authored/coauthored more than 170 refereed publications in real-time computing, distributed systems, sensor networks, and control. He is an Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Real-Time Systems, and has served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Embedded Systems Letters, the ACM Transaction on Sensor Networks, and the Ad Hoc Networks Journal. He chaired (as Program or General Chair) several conferences in his area including RTAS, RTSS, IPSN, Sensys, DCoSS, ICDCS, and ICAC. Abdelzaher’s research interests lie broadly in understanding and influencing performance and temporal properties of networked embedded, social and software systems in the face of increasing complexity, distribution, and degree of interaction with an external physical environment. Tarek Abdelzaher is a recipient of the IEEE Outstanding Technical Achievement and Leadership Award in Real-time Systems (2012), the Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2011), as well as several best paper awards. He is a member of IEEE and ACM.