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2011 November

Archive for November, 2011

Estimating the Impact of Web Technology Conferences

November 27th, 2011, by Tim Finin, posted in CS, Semantic Web, Web

WWW, ISWC and WebDB are the top Web conferences based on Microsoft Academic Search citation data.

Last week HCI researcher Antti Oulasvirta has an interesting post on ranking HCI conferences using the average citations per paper based on data from Microsoft Academic Search (MAS). Some of the results surprised him, including that the venerable CHI was not the top conference in this group. His ranking metric for conference significance is essentially the impact factor used for journals, a measure of the average number of citations a paper in a given journal receives in a time period. The IF metric has become widely used in the scholarly journal publication industry since it was defined by Eugene Garfield and first implemented by the company he founded, the Institute for Scientific Information.

Microsoft Academic Search provides citation and publication numbers for conferences in sixteen different subjects domains and a number of sub-domains for each. For computer science, there are 24 sub-domains including one for “World Wide Web” conferences. Following Oulasvirta, we ranked Web technology conferences using the average number of citations received in the last ten years. Starting with 68 Web technology conferences in the MAS collection (not a complete list, btw), I narrowed the set to those that had at least 100 papers in the past ten years and some papers in the past five. This resulted in 26 conferences, eliminating many series that only ran a few times or have stopped. Here are the results.

The results should only be taken as a rough estimate of conference impact. One reason is that IF is only a measure and does not take into account all aspects of scientific importance. For example, as computed here, all citations count equally, including those from high- and low-ranking sources. Another is that while Thompson-Reuters (nee ISI) journal citation data is carefully collected and curated, the Microsoft Academic Search data is the result of a largely automated process that starts with data from Bing. When I tried using the citation information from the past five years, for example, I noted that it reported 23 papers in the past five years for Adaptive Hypermedia and Adaptive Web-Based Systems. This is because the conference merged with User Modeling in 2009 to become User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization. Yet another shortcoming is that the MAS list of Web conferences in not complete, for example, omitting the popular ESWC, which has been running since 2004.

The original excel spreadsheet (with full conference names hidden in column B) and a PDF version are available.

On Facebook it is 4.74 degrees of separation, not six

November 21st, 2011, by Tim Finin, posted in Social media, Web

On Facebook, it’s 4.74 degrees of separation, not six, according to a new study by study by researchers at Facebook and the university of Milan.

“Think back to the last time you were in a crowded airport or bus terminal far from home. Did you consider that the person sitting next to you probably knew a friend of a friend of a friend of yours? In the 1960s, social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s “small world experiment” famously tested the idea that any two people in the world are separated by only a small number of intermediate connections, arguably the first experimental study to reveal the surprising structure of social networks.

With the rise of modern computing, social networks are now being mapped in digital form, giving researchers the ability to study them on a much grander, even global, scale. Continuing this tradition of social network research, Facebook, in collaboration with researchers at the Università degli Studi di Milano, is today releasing two studies of the Facebook social graph.

First, we measured how many friends people have, and found that this distribution differs significantly from previous studies of large-scale social networks. Second, we found that the degrees of separation between any two Facebook users is smaller than the commonly cited six degrees, and has been shrinking over the past three years as Facebook has grown. Finally, we observed that while the entire world is only a few degrees away, a user’s friends are most likely to be of a similar age and come from the same country.

A story in the New York Times, Separating You and Me? 4.74 Degrees points out how the scale of social network studies have grown.

“The original “six degrees” finding, published in 1967 by the psychologist Stanley Milgram, was drawn from 296 volunteers who were asked to send a message by postcard, through friends and then friends of friends, to a specific person in a Boston suburb. The new research used a slightly bigger cohort: 721 million Facebook users, more than one-tenth of the world’s population.”

Ebiquity Semantic Web Meetup, 6-8pm Tue 11/15

November 11th, 2011, by Tim Finin, posted in Semantic Web

The UMBC Ebiquity Lab is hosting the November meeting of the Lotico Central Maryland Semantic Web Meetup from 6:00-8:00 pm on Tuesday November 15 in room 456 of the ITE building (directions).

“This is free social network and meeting community open to industry, government and academia. The goal of the organizers is to create a vendor neutral environment for open discussion and provide the membership with a valuable resource of information on industry trends and ongoing research.”

All are welcome. If you want to attend, please join the Central MD Semantic Web Meetup group and RSVP. The meeting will start with a pizza social from 6:00pm to 6:45pm and then continue with a series of short presentations of current Semantic Web research being done in our lab.

  • Tim Finin: introduction and overview
  • Laura Zavela: Mobile, collaborative, context-aware systems


    The Semantic Web provides the technology and knowledge constructs to create a rich notion of context that goes beyond current networking applications focusing mostly on location. The context model includes location and surroundings, the presence of people and devices, inferred activities and the roles people fill in them.

  • Varish Mulwad: Automatically generating linked data from tables


    Evidence for a table’s meaning can be found in its metadata but currently requires human interpretation. We describe techniques grounded in graphical models and probabilistic reasoning to infer meaning associated with a table. Using background knowledge from the Linked Open Data cloud, we automatically infer the semantics of column headers, table cell values (e.g., strings and numbers) and relations between columns and represent the inferred meaning as graph of RDF triples.

  • Lushan Han: A Question Answering System for DBpedia


    Users need better ways to explore linked open data collections and obtain information from it. Using SPARQL requires not only mastering its syntax and semantics but also understanding the RDF data model, the ontology used by the DBpedia, and URIs for entities of interest. Natural language question answering systems solve the problem, but these are still subjects of research. We are developing a compromise approach in which non-experts specify a graphical “skeleton” for a query and annotate it with freely chosen words, phrases and entity names. The combination reduces ambiguity and allows us to reliably produce an interpretation that can be translated into SPARQL.

  • Karuna Joshi: Smarter semantic cloud services


    We propose a semantically rich, policy-based framework to automate the lifecycle of cloud services. We have divided the IT service lifecycle into the five phases of requirements, discovery, negotiation, composition, and consumption. We detail each phase and describe the high level ontologies that we have developed to describe them. Our research complements previous work on ontologies for service descriptions in that it goes beyond simple matchmaking and is focused on supporting negotiation for the particulars of IT services.

See this map for the building location and information on visitor parking. The recommended lot is just across from the entrance to UMBC’s campus from I-95. To access it, turn right and then turn left at the first stop sign onto Administration Drive. You can park on the lower level after 3:30pm by putting two quarters into the box at the gate. The upper level has parking meters that take quarters ($1/hr) and a change machine is located near the entrance.

Honda Asimo robot gains more autonomy

November 8th, 2011, by Tim Finin, posted in AI

It still won’t be able to pass as a human like the Nexus 6, but Honda’s Asimo robot now enjoys more autonomy.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today unveiled an all-new ASIMO humanoid robot newly equipped with the world’s first1 autonomous behavior control technology. With a further advance in autonomy, the all-new ASIMO can now continue moving without being controlled by an operator. Moreover, with significantly improved intelligence and the physical ability to adapt to situations, ASIMO took another step closer to practical use in an office or a public space where many people come and go.

AAAI Symposium on Open Government Knowledge, 4-6 Nov 2010, Arlington VA

November 2nd, 2011, by Tim Finin, posted in AI, Semantic Web

If you are in the DC area this weekend and are interested in using Semantic Web technologies, you should come to the AAAI 2011 Fall Symposium on Open Government Knowledge: AI Opportunities and Challenges. It runs from Friday to Sunday midday at the he Westin Arlington Gateway in Arlington, Virginia.

Join us to meet the thought governmental and business leaders in US open government data activities, and discuss the challenges. The symposium features Friday (Nov 4) as governmental day with speakers on,, open gov data activities in NIH/NCI and NASA and Saturday (Nov 5) as R&D day with speakers from industry, including Google and Microsoft, as well international researchers.

This symposium will explore how AI technologies such as the Semantic Web, information extraction, statistical analysis and machine learning, can be used to make the valuable knowledge embedded in open government data more explicit, accessible and reusable.

See the OGK website for complete details.

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