Monday, September 15, 2014 - 12:15pm to 2:00pm
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**New Location** Pound Hall 200, Harvard Law School, 1563 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge

STS Circle at Harvard

David Lazer (Northeastern, Political Science) on "Computational Social Science: The Use of 'Big Data' to Study Human Behavior"

Abstract:  What is potential of “big data” in understanding social systems?  That is, what are the possibilities in repurposing the digital breadcrumbs we leave behind into an understanding of human society?  This talk will examine the potential of a social science based on big data, but will also discuss the major challenges.  The focal example will be Google Flu Trends (GFT), built on research published in Nature in 2008, which claimed to accurately “nowcast” flu prevalence, but which has been an abject failure the last several years.  The likely reasons for its failure point to more systematic challenges for big data, and how research on big data needs to be done and organized within the academy.
Biography:   David Lazer is Distinguished University Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University, Co-Director, NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. His research focuses on the nexus of social networks, computational social science, and collective intelligence. He is an Associate Editor for Social Networks and Network Science, and a reviewing editor for Science. His research has been published in such journals as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the American Political Science Review, Public Opinion Quarterly, and the Administrative Science Quarterly.

Sandwich lunches are provided. Please RSVP to by Wednesday at 5PM the week before.

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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