CS 6724 - Computational Social Science
Spring 2018

Final Project

Term Project (60%) - Group

The goal of the final project is to identify an interesting question or problem in the computational social science domain that you can address by analyzing social data and/or building social tools to augment current social systems. The goal is to study a particular human behavior or a specific social phenomenon, either by drawing inferrences from collected digital traces or by runnning experiments and interventions or a combination of both. The papers discussed in class should help you along the way. An ideal project is one which blends ideas from social science and computer science, that is, one which is motivated by questions from social science and uses computer science tools and techniques for answering those questions. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one paper in your literature surveyed that comes from a non-computer science conference/journal. Although project topics must be approved, you are free to pick a topic of interest in the general field of computational social science. You need to justify that the topic is interesting, relevant to the course, of suitable difficulty. Your project should have some non-trivial analysis/algorithms/computation (e.g., computing basic statistics, like average, min/max will not be enough). You can also have an interactive user interface that interact with the algorithms (can be visual, browser–based, desktop–based etc.). Implementing your term project has multiple graded components starting with the project proposal and ending with the final presentation and report submission.

Project Proposal (5%) - Individual & Group (in phases)

A successful project goes go through the classic three steps of – idea generation, idea selection, and implementation. In choosing your final project, you will go through these multi-step process. Several of these will be conducted in-class with your peers. Below are the steps that you will need to follow:

  • Proposal Idea generation (Individual) (submit on Canvas – graded for completeness) – Again, note, the word – completeness. You cannot do a sloppy job and expect a grade. For your idea generation phase, you should propose a minimum of two ideas for your project. You are free to propose more, but your submission should be limited to 2-pages, 12-point font. Each of your ideas should clearly answer two questions and mention the topic of your idea in a few short keywords:
    • What you want to do?
    • Why should we care?
    • Keywords – To mark topic and domain of the idea.

Your proposed ideas will be reviewed by your peers during an in-class lab activity. Please print copies of your proposed ideas on the feedback day. I will try my best to match peers based on the keywords that you mention. This is your chance to get supportive helpful feedback on early stage ideas. Be open about candid discussions and weaknesses of your proposed ideas. Plus, this is also your chance to form teams for your group projects and identity students with similar interests.

  • Feedback on Ideas (Individual) (in-class activity – graded for completeness) – Providing feedback is a crucial activity that you will experience throughout your career. This is your chance to practice providing helpful constructive feedback. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: A key thing that you should remember while giving feedback is that your feedback is not meant to make yourself look smart or show-off in any way. Your feedback should be helpful, constructive and respectful towards your peers.
  • Feedback on Proposal Feedback (Individual) (in-class activity – graded for completeness) – How useful was your feedback? In order to help you learn about how to give feedback, the author of the proposal will give you feedback on your feedback, such as which parts she found most helpful and what changes she plans to make (if any) based on your feedback.
  • Final Proposal (Group) (submit on Canvas – graded as per grading rubric) – Based on the feedback received and the discussions that you have had, you will form your project team and propose your final project proposal. Your final proposal can be based on one of your earlier proposed ideas, or be a mashup of you and your team-members’ ideas, or different from your initially proposed ideas. If it is different, then it is likely that you don’t have any feedback yet on your idea. Consult with me before finalizing. Once you have selected a topic, finalized your project team, you should do some background reading so that you are capable of describing, in some detail, what you expect to accomplish. Once you have read up on your topic, you will be ready to write your proposal. Your proposal should be fewer than 1000 words, excluding titles, section names, reference list, etc., but including the literature survey. It should use 12pt font, typed in PDF format (can be created using any software, e.g., LaTeX, Word), and with figures, tables, etc. whenever useful. 

  • Guidelines for Project Proposal: Your project proposal should include answers to all of Heilmeier’s questions, as well include the name of your project and team members. Your proposal should be fewer than 1000 words, excluding titles, section names, reference list, etc., but including the literature survey. It should use 12pt font, typed in PDF format (can be created using any software, e.g., LaTeX, Word), and with figures, tables, etc. whenever useful.  So, your proposal should include the following:
    • The name of your team. Something memorable which resonates with what you are trying to do.
    • The name of all team members.

    All 9 Heilmeir questions (wikipedia source):

    1. What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon. What is the problem? Why is it hard?
    2. How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
    3. What’s new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
    4. Who cares?
    5. If you’re successful, what difference will it make? What impact will success have? How will it be measured?
    6. What are the risks and the payoffs?
    7. How much will it cost (in terms of people, resources, etc.)?
    8. How long will it take?
    9. What are the midterm and final “exams” to check for success? How will progress be measured?
  • Teaming: The work will be carried out in teams of 2 to 3 people depending on class size. In order to help with team formation and identify people of similar interests and complimentary skills, you will introduce yourself to your classmates by writing a short intro about yourself on Piazza. Please do this in the first week of class, so that you have enough time to form teams. Your intro should include:
    • Your name
    • Project interests
    • Relevant skills
    • Anything else that you think is relevant for your team formation.

Project Pitch (5%) - Group

Each team should present a pitch to the class stating the problem they are working on. It should focus on the why, what and how questions - Why is it needed? Who wants or benefits? What are you planning to do? How will you do it?  What skills and tools are needed? You can also follow the questions that you answer in your proposal to prepare your pitch presentation.

Project Midterm Checkpoint (10% mideterm presentation + 10% midterm report) - Group

Midway through the project, each team will be required to make a midterm presentation and submit midterm report outlining their work. We will also hold additional checkpoints during the duration of the project. This will be your chance to show your progress or discuss any lingering doubts or questions.

Final Project Presentation (10%) - Group

  • Final Project Presentation: Each group will make their project in a final presentation towards the end of the semester summarizing their key findings. You need to make your presentation in an engaging way.

Final Project Deliverable (20%) - Group

  • Final Project Report: Your final project deliverable is a project report clearly articulating the motivation, analysis and key takeaways. You also need to submit your codebase.
  • Peer Feedback: After submitting your final report, you will be evaluating the work of your team members. The comments and ratings provided by your team members are key towards determining your final grade. So be nice to your team members, choose them wisely, and diligently do your share of work.