[Intelligence Seminar] Nov. 15, 3:30pm:, Presentation by Mark Dredze

Dana Houston dhouston at cs.cmu.edu
Tue Nov 8 14:59:31 EST 2011

NOVEMBER 15 AT 3:30PM, IN GHC 4303

SPEAKER: MARK DREDZE (Johns Hopkins University)
Host: Carolyn Penstein Rose
For meetings, contact Dana Houston (dhouston at cs.cmu.edu)


Twitter and other social media sites contain a wealth of information about
populations and have been used to track sentiment towards products, measure
political attitudes, and study social linguistics. In this talk, we
investigate the potential for Twitter to impact public health research.
Specifically, we consider population surveillance, a major focus of public
health that typically depends on clinical encounters with health
professionals to collect patient data. Individual users often broadcast
salient health information, such as "sick with this flu fever taking over
my body ughhhh time for tylenol", which indicates that not only does this
person have the flu, but also a fever and is self-medicating with tylenol.
Aggregating such content across millions of users could provide
information about numerous aspects of illnesses in the population.

In this work we present the Ailment Topic Aspect Model (ATAM), a new
Bayesian graphical model for Twitter that associates symptoms, treatments,
and general words with diseases (ailments). When applied to 1.6 million
health-related tweets, ATAM discovers descriptions of diseases in terms of
collections of words (symptoms and treatments) and partitions messages
based on the referenced disease. The model discovers diseases
corresponding to influenza, infections, obesity, insomnia, and several
others. Furthermore, we demonstrate the effectiveness of this model at
several tasks: tracking illnesses over times (syndromic surveillance),
measuring behavioral risk factors, localizing illnesses by geographic
region, and analyzing symptoms and medication usage. We show quantitative
correlations with public health data and qualitative evaluations of model
output. Our results suggest that Twitter has broad applicability for
public health research.


Mark Dredze is an Assistant Research Professor in Computer Science at
Johns Hopkins University, as well as a member of the Center for Language
and Speech Processing and the Human Language Technology Center of
Excellence. His research in natural language processing and machine
learning has focused on graphical models, semi-supervised learning,
information extraction, large-scale learning, speech processing, and
health informatics. He obtained his PhD from the University of
Pennsylvania in 2009.

Dana M. Houston
Language Technologies Institute
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
5405 Gates Hillman Complex
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

T:  (412)268-4717
F:  (412)268-6298

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