Seminar: Readings in Social Computing Systems

Seminar (7CP)

Summer semester 2013

Instructor: Krishna Gummadi, Bimal Viswanath
Teaching Assistants: Mainack Mondal, Juhi Kulshrestha


Social computing systems refer to online computer systems that enable users to interact, collaborate, and compete with one another. Examples of social computing systems include social networking sites like Facebook and Google+, blogging and microbloging sites like Twitter and LiveJournal, content sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr, social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Reddit, crowd-sourced opinion sites like Yelp and eBay seller ratings, and social peer production sites like Wikipedia and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Recently these systems have become tremendously popular and they are bringing profound changes in the ways individuals, organizations, and governments exchange information in our society.

Despite their popularity, social computing systems are still in their infancy and they bring with them new threats, challenges, and opportunities. In this seminar, we will read and discuss research papers (both classical and recent) that cover problems related to emerging security and privacy threats in social computing systems.


Prerequisites for the course include undergraduate courses on information systems and programming languages. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of graph theory, algorithms, networks and distributed systems, and also be ready to learn and pick up concepts from data mining, machine learning and information retrieval.

Proficiency in C/C++ or Java is required. Knowledge of a scripting language such as Python or Perl would greatly aid you in your work and if not already familiar, we would strongly recommend learning one such language. The course projects would require significant amount of programming effort towards gathering and analyzing data at scale or towards implementing and deploying new system designs.

We expect students who enroll for the course to be highly motivated to learn and work hard and be ready to make up for any prerequisite deficiencies they may have.


Students interested in participating in the seminar should register early using the signup form.


When: regular meetings every Wednesday from 16:00 (c.t.) to 18:00.

The first meeting is on April 24th.

Where: room 005, E1 5 (MPI-SWS building, UdS Campus).

Attendance policy: Students should attend all the classes and actively participate in paper discussions. It should be noted that participation in paper discussion accounts for 25% of the grade. During classes, we will be also following up on the progress of the course project which accounts for 50% of the grade.

Office hours: We will have office hours every Monday 9am-11am in Room 422 of E1 5 to discuss the course project.


Each week we will read one paper from topics on security and privacy. Students do not have to present papers, instead one of us (TAs/instructors) will present the paper to initiate the discussion. The course will consist of three components:

Covered Papers

The paper reading list is posted here.

Course project

Details of the course project can be found here.


Grades will be assigned based on the following weighting:

Paper discussion25%
Paper reviewing25%
Research project50%