Predictive models for online human activities
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The availability and scale of user generated data in online systems raises tremendous challenges and opportunities to analytic study of human activities. Effective modeling of online human activities is not only fundamental to the understanding of human behavior, but also important to the online industry. This thesis focuses on developing models and algorithms to predict human activities in online systems and to improve the algorithmic design of personalized/socialized systems (e.g., recommendation, advertising, Web search systems). We are particularly interested in three types of online user activities, i.e., decision making, social interactions and user-generated contents. Centered around these activities, the thesis focuses on three challenging topics: 1. Behavior prediction, i.e., predicting users' online decisions. We present Collaborative-Competitive Filtering, a novel game-theoretic framework for predicting users' online decision making behavior and leverage the knowledge to optimize the design of online systems (e.g., recommendation systems) in respect of certain strategic goals (e.g., sales revenue, consumption diversity). 2. Social contagion, i.e., modeling the interplay between social interactions and individual behavior of decision making. We establish the joint Friendship-Interest Propagation model and the Behavior-Relation Interplay model, a series of statistical approaches to characterize the behavior of individual user's decision making, the interactions among socially connected users, and the interplay between these two activities. These techniques are demonstrated by applications to social behavior targeting. 3. Content mining, i.e., understanding user generated contents. We propose the Topic-Adapted Latent Dirichlet Allocation model, a probabilistic model for identifying a user's hidden cognitive aspects (e.g., knowledgability) from the texts created by the user. The model is successfully applied to address the challenge of ``language gap" in medical information retrieval.