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(CS/EE 144)
Networks:Structure & Economics
a.k.a. The ideas behind our networked world

Course details

The course will be managed using Piazza. All communication and materials will be posted through https://piazza.com/caltech/winter2014/csee144/home. Email Adam if you have problems enrolling yourself at the site.

Course Description

Social networks, the web, and the internet are an essential parts of our lives and we all depend on them every day, but do you really know what makes them work? This course studies the "big" ideas behind our networked lives. Things like, what do networks actually look like (and why do they all look the same)? How do search engines work? Why to memes spread the way they do? How does web advertising work? For all these questions and more, the course will provide a mixture of both mathematical analysis and hands-on labs.This course can be combined with CS/EE 145 and CS 141a or CS/EE 143 to satisfy the project requirement for CS undergraduate degree, but CS/EE 143 and CS 141a are not required prerequisites. The course assumes students are comfortable with graph theory, probability, and basic programming.

Instructor

Adam Wierman, adamw@caltech.edu

Required Textbook

Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World,
by David Easley and Jon Kleinberg.

This book is quite reasonably priced, but there is also a pre-publication pdf available here. I think the book is excellent, so I highly recommend you buy a copy and read it cover-to-cover. We will not be going through it in order, but I will point to the relevant parts of the book for each lecture. Additionally, I will post course notes and supplementary papers on this site at the end of each class.

Lectures

This is only a tentative outline of the topics we will discuss and will likely change as the term goes by. But, I put it up to give you an idea of where we're going. The course is basically organized as a collection of topics that I think are important and interesting and which provide a modern perspective on our networked lives.

Introduction to the class

Part I: Understanding Network structure

Part II. The impact of network structure

Part III. Network economics

Course Summary

Homeworks

Homeworks will be assigned every 1-2 weeks. Many of the problems will be challenging, so please start immediately and please come to office hours to discuss the problems! The assignments will represent a mixture of theory (proofs) and practice (coding). I assume that you can code and use Matlab/Mathematica and Python.

Mini-project winners

We have two contests during the course homeworks, one related to search engine optimization (rankmaniac) and one related to computational advertising (clickmaniac). The projects change year to year, but the winners are immortalized here:

In 2014...
    the rankmaniacs were: Ryan Batterman, Joseph Choi, and Kevin Yang
    the pandemaniacs were: Kun Huang, Shupin Mao, Danlei Yang
    the clickmaniacs were: Alex Cioc, David Foor

In 2013...
    the rankmaniacs were: Benjamin Cosman, Matthew Dughi, Suzannah Fraker, Yuchen Lin
    the clickmaniacs were: Eduardo Gonzalez, Li Gu, Josie Kishi, Jesse Salomon

In 2012...
    the rankmaniacs were: Michael Burd, Michael Hirshleifer, Ramya Vinayak
    the clickmaniacs were: Kevin Lo, Nathan Watson, Mikhail Sushkov, Stasja Stanisic

In 2011...
    the rankmaniacs were: Giordon Stark, Jamie Jackson
    the clickmaniacs were: Dai Wei, Doris Xin, Wenqi Yao

In 2010...
    the rankmaniacs were: Daniel Erenrich, Chis Kennelly, Andy Matuschak
    the clickmaniacs were: Jonathan Krause, Manuel Lagang