Publications

Publications
Publications
We strongly believe in open source and giving to our community. We work directly with researchers in academia and seek out new perspectives with our intern and fellowship programs. We generalize our solutions and release them to the world as open source projects. We host discussions and publish our results.

Publications

Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery (JACM) – 2013

Distributed Random Walks

Atish Das Sarma, Danupon Nanongkai, Gopal Pandurangan, Prasad Tetali

Performing random walks in networks is a fundamental primitive that has found applications in many areas of computer science, including distributed computing. In this article, we focus on the problem of sampling random walks efficiently in a distributed network and its applications. Given bandwidth constraints, the goal is to minimize the number of rounds required to obtain random walk samples. All previous algorithms that compute a random walk sample of length ℓ as a subroutine always do so naively, that is, in O(ℓ) rounds.

The main contribution of this article is a fast distributed algorithm for performing random walks. We present a sublinear time distributed algorithm for performing random walks whose time complexity is sublinear in the length of the walk. Our algorithm performs a random walk of length ℓ in Õ(√ℓD) rounds (Õ hides polylog n factors where n is the number of nodes in the network) with high probability on an undirected network, where D is the diameter of the network. For small diameter graphs, this is a significant improvement over the naive O(ℓ) bound.

Furthermore, our algorithm is optimal within a poly-logarithmic factor as there exists a matching lower bound [Nanongkai et al. 2011]. We further extend our algorithms to efficiently perform k independent random walks in Õ(√kℓD + k) rounds. We also show that our algorithm can be applied to speedup the more general Metropolis-Hastings sampling. Our random-walk algorithms can be used to speed up distributed algorithms in applications that use random walks as a subroutine. We present two main applications.

First, we give a fast distributed algorithm for computing a random spanning tree (RST) in an arbitrary (undirected unweighted) network which runs in Õ(√mD) rounds with high probability (m is the number of edges). Our second application is a fast decentralized algorithm for estimating mixing time and related parameters of the underlying network. Our algorithm is fully decentralized and can serve as a building block in the design of topologically-aware networks.

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WSDM-2013

Arrival and Departure Dynamics in Social Networks

Shaomei Wu, Atish Das Sarma, Alex Fabrikant, Silvio Lattanzi, Andrew Tomkins

In this paper, we consider the natural arrival and departure of users in a social network, and ask whether the dynamics of arrival, which have been studied in some depth, also explain the dynamics of departure, which are not as well studied.

Through study of the DBLP co-authorship network and a large online social network, we show that the dynamics of departure behave differently from the dynamics of formation.

In particular, the probability of departure of a user with few friends may be understood most accurately as a function of the raw number of friends who are active. For users with more friends, however, the probability of departure is best predicted by the overall fraction of the user's neighborhood that is active, independent of size.

We then study global properties of the sub-graphs induced by active and inactive users, and show that active users tend to belong to a core that is densifying and is significantly denser than the inactive users. Further, the inactive set of users exhibit a higher density and lower conductance than the degree distribution alone can explain. These two aspects suggest that nodes at the fringe are more likely to depart and subsequent departure are correlated among neighboring nodes in tightly-knit communities.

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Workshop at WSDM-2014

Data Design for Personalization: Current Challenges and Emerging Opportunities

Elizabeth Churchill, Atish Das Sarma

Personalization is central to most Internet experiences. Personalization is a data-driven process, whether the data are explicitly gathered (e.g., by asking people to fill out forms) or implicitly (e.g. through analysis of behavioral data).

It is clear that designing for effective personalization poses interesting engineering and computer science challenges. However, personalization is also a user experience issue. We believe that encouraging dialogue and collaboration between data mining experts, content providers, and user-focused researchers will offer gains in the area of personalization for search and for other domains.

This workshop is part of a larger effort we are developing: D2D: Data to Design - Design to Data.

Our vision is to provide a forum for researchers and practitioners in computer and systems sciences, data sciences, machine learning, information retrieval, interaction and interface design, and human computer interaction to interact.

Our goal is to explore issues surrounding content and presentation personalization across different devices, and to set an agenda for cross-discipline, collaborative engagement.

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American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 2013, 5(1): 1–27

Set-Asides and Subsidies in Auctions

Susan Athey, Dominic Coey, Jonathan Levin

Set-asides and subsidies are used extensively in government procurement and resource sales. We analyze these policies in an empirical model of US Forest Service timber auctions.

The model fits the data well both within the sample of unrestricted sales used for estimation, and when we predict (out-of-sample) outcomes for small business set-asides. Our estimates suggest that restricting entry substantially reduces efficiency and revenue, although it increases small business participation.

An alternative policy of subsidizing small bidders would increase revenue and small bidder profit, with little efficiency cost. We explain these findings by connecting to the theory of optimal auction design. (JEL D44, H57, L73, Q23)

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Tutorial at CIKM-2013

Beyond Skylines and Top-k Queries: Representative Databases and e-Commerce Product Search

Atish Das Sarma, Ashwin Lall, Nish Parikh, Neel Sundaresan

Skyline queries have been a topic of intense study in the database area for over a decade now. Similarly, the top-k retrieval query has been heavily investigated by both the database as well as the web research communities. This tutorial will delve into the background of these two areas, and specifically focus on the recent challenges with respect to returning a small set of results to users, as well as requiring minimal intervention or input from them.

These are two main concerns with skylines and top-k respectively, and therefore have drawn a great deal of attention in the recent years with several interesting ideas being proposed in the research community. This tutorial will cover the current approaches to representative database selection. We will focus on both the theoretical models as well as the practical aspects from an industry standpoint.

The topics of covered in this tutorial will include identifying representative subsets of the skyline set, interaction based approaches, e-commerce product search, and leveraging aggregate user preference statistics.

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In proceedings of The 2013 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining, ASONAM 2013. 829-836. (Best Paper Award Winner)

Chelsea Won, and You Bought a T-shirt: Characterizing the Interplay Between Twitter and E-Commerce

Haipeng Zhang, Nish Parikh, Neel Sundaresan

The popularity of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook opens up interesting research opportunities for understanding the interplay of social media and e-commerce. Most research on online behavior, up until recently, has focused mostly on social media behaviors and e-commerce behaviors independently.

In our study we choose a particular global ecommerce platform (eBay) and a particular global social media platform (Twitter). We quantify the characteristics of the two individual trends as well as the correlations between them.

We provide evidences that about 5% of general eBay query streams show strong positive correlations with the corresponding Twitter mention streams, while the percentage jumps to around 25% for trending eBay query streams. Some categories of eBay queries, such as 'Video Games' and 'Sports', are more likely to have strong correlations.

We also discover that eBay trend lags Twitter for correlated pairs and the lag differs across categories. We show evidences that celebrities' popularities on Twitter correlate well with their relevant search and sales on eBay.

The correlations and lags provide predictive insights for future applications that might lead to instant merchandising opportunities for both sellers and e-commerce platforms.

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Lightning Talk and Poster @ Extremely Large Databases XLDB 2013.

Building a Network of E-commerce Concepts

Sandip Gaikwad, Sanjay Ghatare, Nish Parikh, Rajendra Shinde

We present a method for developing a network of e-commerce concepts. We define concepts as collection of terms that represent product entities or commerce ideas that users are interested in. We start by looking at large corpora (Billions) of historical eBay buyer queries and seller item titles.

We approach the problem of concept extraction from corpora as a market-baskets problem by adapting statistical measures of support and confidence. The concept-centric meta-data extraction pipeline is built over a map-reduce framework. We constrain the concepts to be both popular and concise.

Evaluation of our algorithm shows that high precision concept sets can be automatically mined. The system mines the full spectrum of precise e-commerce concepts ranging all the way from "ipod nano" to "I'm not a plastic bag" and from "wakizashi sword" to "mastodon skeleton".

Once the concepts are detected, they are linked into a network using different metrics of semantic similarity between concepts. This leads to a rich network of e-commerce vocabulary. Such a network of concepts can be the basis of enabling powerful applications like e-commerce search and discover as well as automatic e-commerce taxonomy generation. We present details about the extraction platform, and algorithms for segmentation of short snippets of e-commerce text as well as detection and linking of concepts.

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