How do social networks influence our opinions?

(09-06-2022) In her PhD, Xi Chen examines how social networks influence our opinions.

The Internet has given us access to a massive range of media; it also exposes us to many unverified "facts," making it difficult for people to distinguish fact from fiction. Social media now plays an increasingly important role in opinion formation, i.e., the way people form their opinions through social interactions (represented as connections) with others. This creates a need for deeper analysis of opinion formation and connections in networks.

"In my doctoral research, I studied opinion dynamics and connection prediction in networks. It starts with the process of opinion formation in social networks and then focuses on the task of predicting connections in networks in general, because connections that determine opinion formation are not always all known," Xi explains.

"More specifically, I conducted research on improving opinion formation models, quantifying and reducing the risk of conflict in social networks, and developing data-efficient and robust connection prediction methods using network embedding," Xi concludes.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD


PhD Title: Opinion Dynamics and Link Prediction in Networks: Models, Data Efficiency, and Robustness


Contact: Xi Chen, Tijl De Bie, Jefrey Lijffijt

Xi Chen

Xi Chen was born in Hunan, China. After obtaining her bachelor's degree in Management Science from Beijing Language and Culture University in 2015, Xi received her MSc degree in computing (Computational Management Science) with distinction at Imperial College London in 2016.

After that, Xi joined the research group in IDLab at Ghent Univerisity, now called Artificial Intelligence and Data Analysis (AIDA) group, for her doctoral study under the supervision of Prof. Tijl De Bie and Prof. Jefrey Lijffijt since August 2017. Xi's research interests are in the broad area of data mining and machine learning, with particular focuses on network science, the modeling of opinions and conflict in social networks, and data-efficient and robust graph representation learning methods. She enjoys applying methods with principled mathematics to practical problems where mathematical insights can help. Xi's PhD research resulted in two A1 journal articles and four C1 conference contributions.


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke