Complex Information and Social Networks


  1. To understand the software development opportunities offered by the emergence of these networks, through the study of information retrieval algorithms like the one used by Google.
  2. To understand the application development possibilities offered by social networks environments like Facebook.
  3. To understand how elementary graph-theoretic concepts may help understanding the structure and certain properties (like the "mysterious" small world phenomenon, or the resilience to failures) of such networks.


A selection of lecture topics from the following list:

  • Introduction to social networks and metrics (typically 3 to 6 lectures)
  • Small world networks and network distance (6 lectures)
  • Power laws and the structure of the web (6 lectures)
  • Internet and robustness (6 lectures)
  • Community detection (6 lectures)
  • Network search and Google PageRank (typically 3 to 6 lectures)
  • Facebook and Social Network Apps (typically 6 to 9 lectures)

Recommended Texts

A reading list will be issued to the students at the beginning of the teaching term. Reading material could include any of the following (all to be used in their most recent edition):

Bain, M. A. and Hayder, H. Learning Facebook Application Development. Packt Publishing.

Bonato, A. A course on the Web Graph. AMS Press.

Easley, D. and Kleinberg, J. Networks, Crowds, and Markets. Cambridge University Press.

Goldman, J. Facebook Cookbook. O'Reilly Media.

Langville, A. N. and Meyer, C. D. Google Page Rank and Beyond. Princeton Univ. Press.

Newmann, M. Networks. Oxford University Press.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module students should be able to

  1. explain the most common metrics and techniques of complex network analysis and classification;
  2. explain the most recent applications of these techniques in the area of social and technological networks;
  3. be able to identify the main issues, techniques, and tools needed for the development of applications in the area of social networks.

Learning Strategy

Formal Lectures and Tutorials: Students will be expected to attend three hours of formal lectures in a typical week accompanied by one hour of seminar given by students in groups, or one hour of tutorials. Formal lctures will be used to introduce students to the concepts and methods covered by the module.

Private study: In a typical week students will be expected to devote six hours of unsupervised time to private study. The time allowed per week for private study will typically include three hours of time for reflection and consideration of lecture material and background reading, and three hours for completion of practical exercises.

Assessment: Continuous assessment will be used to test to what extent practical skills have been learnt. A final examination at the end of the module will assess the academic achievement of students.