Students' Research Paper Accepted at ACM Conference

June 18, 2012

A team of INI students in the Pittsburgh-Silicon Valley Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) programs collaborated with Sprint and its Applied Research and Advanced Technology Labs during the academic year. The result? A research paper worthy of acceptance to a Workshop on Social Network Mining and Analysis at KDD 2012, a respected ACM conference in Beijing.

Fulfilling the MSIT practicum requirement, the research project presented a problem for the students to solve for Sprint, who played the role of client as in a real-world situation. The client asked the students to help out with improving the design of Sprint's customized services by analyzing data from mobile call records. With the guidance of faculty member Dr. Ole Mengshoel and his research on social networking, the team set out to analyze social relationships between mobile users.

The team's research led to the paper titled, "The Impact of Social Affinity on Phone Calling Patterns: Categorizing Social Ties from Call Data Records," and the news of its acceptance to the workshop came in June. Less than half of the papers submitted were accepted.

The team was made up of Sandeep Appala (MSIT-Mobility), Jay Shah (MSIT-Software Management), and Luca Zoia (MSIT-Information Security) and advised by Dr. Mengshoel at the Silicon Valley Campus.

The team used a technology called Hadoop in order to analyze mass amounts of data their client provided. They learned to follow a systematic approach to the research and to develop algorithms for graph theory-based analytics. The team was able to produce good quantifiable results and include those findings in their research paper.

"In my graduate studies, along with coursework, I also wanted to pursue research," reported team member Sandeep. "The INI practicum and some of the graduate courses at the INI gave me the opportunity to work with renowned professors and provided the perfect blend of academic research with very close industry interaction."

At Carnegie Mellon, it's not uncommon for students to delve into real-world problems as part of their coursework, so they can apply theory to practice. Companies such as Sprint and other industry partners have helped to enhance such learning opportunities for students. It's particularly satisfying when the collaboration produces something that can be shared with industry and recognized at conferences.