Kiran Kumar Bandeli successfully defended his doctoral dissertation “A Framework Toward Computational Narrative Analysis on Blogs/Social Media” Monday, November 25, 2019.  In attendance were committee members Dr. Nitin Agarwal (chair), Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, Dr. John Talburt, and Dr. Ningning Wu as well as members of COSMOS.  During his time at COSMOS, Kiran quickly familiarize himself with blogs.  “Blogs in particular act as virtual spaces where narratives are framed. It is therefore important to study and understand the way information is said by the actors on social media platforms,” Kiran explained. Narratives are organized, long-lasting themes and ideas that persist in discourses. It is challenging toRead More →

Billy Spann successfully defended his master’s thesis “Structural Decomposition of Deviant Cyber Flash Mobs on Twitter Using Focal Structure Analysis” Friday, November 22, 2019.  In attendance were committee members Dr. Nitin Agarwal (chair), Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, and Dr. Dan Berleant as well as members of COSMOS.  Since he joined COSMOS in the summer of 2018, Billy has developed an interest in studying collection action groups. He familiarized himself with the deviant cyber flash mobs (DCFM) model developed by Dr. Samer Al-khateeb and Dr. Agarwal and used it as a stepping stone for his work.  The goal of his research was to use DCFM structural networkRead More →

Anal Kanti Roy successfully defended his master’s thesis “Automation of Crawling Blogosphere based on Pattern Recognition” Thursday, November 21, 2019.  In attendance were committee members Dr. Nitin Agarwal (chair), Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, and Dr. Serpil Tokdemir Yuce as well as members of COSMOS.  Over the past two years, Roy has become very familiar with extracting online content. As COSMOS’ leading crawling expert, Roy has played a fundamental role in data extraction for various COSMOS research projects.   The motivation behind his work was not only the sheer volume of content published on blogs,  but also the influence these blogs can have on the public. Blogs areRead More →

Karen DiCicco successfully defended her master’s thesis “Blockchain Applications in Agriculture” Tuesday, November 19, 2019.  In attendance were committee members Dr. Nitin Agarwal (chair), Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, and Dr. Ningning Wu as well as members of COSMOS.  In December 2018, Karen graduated with her bachelor’s degree and Graduate Certificate in Data Science.  She will continue her research on blockchain applications as a University of Arkansas at Little Rock Information Science PhD student this Spring.    For more information about the Information Science programs offered, please visit https://ualr.edu/informationscience/. Read More →

United States Senator John Boozman visited UA Little Rock on Friday, November 15, 2019. He met with COSMOS director Dr. Nitin Agarwal and several researchers to gain insights about the work COSMOS is conducting.  COSMOS has been awarded a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop ways to track emerging cyber-social threats and strengthen social cybersecurity research infrastructure. Dr. Agarwal presented his talk “Deviant Mobs of the Internet: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures” during which he discussed how social media analytics research is used to track malicious activities, including the dissemination of propaganda, hoaxes, and disinformation to influence beliefs and behaviors. “WeRead More →

Richard Young successfully defended his information science master’s project “Chromaweaver: A Moviebarcode Analysis Tool for Youtube” Friday, November 8, 2019.  In attendance were committee members Dr. Nitin Agarwal (chair), Dr. Bruce Bauer and Dr. Joseph Williams as well as members of COSMOS. Richard is a remote student currently living in Spain and did his defense via Google Hangout.  For his project, Richard explored moviebarcode image processing techniques that can be integrated into the COSMOS application YoutubeTracker. The end result is the standalone application Chromaweaver, which serves as a moviebarcode analysis tool for Youtube videos. Richard documented his work for the project as a blog. BeingRead More →

COSMOS director Dr. Nitin Agarwal participated in the two-day workshop “Understanding and Countering Online Falsehoods and Influence Operations” organized by the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a research unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.  CENS brought together experts from academia, industry and governments from across the globe to share their insights and experiences.  The goal was to gain a better understanding of the issues from a multidisciplinary perspective, how organizations and countries deal with these issues and how problems can be countered by using existing and new means. As an expert from academia,Read More →

On October 22, 2019, Dr. Nitin Agarwal presented his research “Exploring Deviant Hacker Networks On Social Media Platforms” during the Artificial Intelligence for Cybersecurity session of The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) annual meeting in Seattle, WA.   The study, co-authored by COSMOS-alumni Dr. Samer Al-khateeb, focuses on malicious activities of hacker groups on social media. The authors call these groups Deviant Hacker Networks (DHNs). To gain a better understanding of DHNs and how they communicate with each other, the authors studied the connection between different DHNs on Twitter.  The goal was to identify their key actors: which actors were well-connected, whichRead More →

Dr. Nitin Agarwal traveled to Greece, where he demonstrated YouTubeTracker, a socio-computational tool developed by COSMOS, at the IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on Web Intelligence (WI). The annual international conference focuses on research that deepens the understanding of computational, logical, cognitive, physical as well as business and social foundations of the future Web, and enables the development and application of intelligent technologies. YouTubeTracker’s ability to assist its users in the understanding of information operations was a popular demo at the conference. The tool aims to provide in-depth qualitative and quantitative insights into user behavior or networks. YouTubeTracker gathers YouTube data and offers insights on content andRead More →

Doctoral student Zachary Stine’s article “Characterizing the Language‑Production Dynamics of Social Media Users” was accepted for publication by Springer’s Social Network Analysis and Mining (SNAM) on September 28, 2019. The article, co-authored by Dr. Nitin Agarwal, was published online on October 3. Abstract:  In this paper, we propose a characterization of social media users based on language usage over time in order to make more rigorous the notions of organic and inorganic online behavior. This characterization describes the extent to which a user’s word usage within a particular time period subverts expectations based on preceding time periods. To do this, we adapt the use ofRead More →