COM’s Web Miners Win Three Awards

A team of social science students from the Web Mining Lab of City University of Hong Kong’s Department of Media and Communication (COM) won three awards at the 2017 Big Data & Computer Intelligence (BDCI) competition in Changshu.

CityU’s awards are significant triumphs in a prestigious competition. Organised by the China Computer Federation (CCF) since 2014, the annual BDCI is the largest computing contest in the country, and with a prize pool of over 1 million yuan.

The internationally expanding competition’s winners were also decided after three months of intense expert judging. CCF invited members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering to review the competing projects with other experts from academia, industry and the investment community.

CityU’s winning team consisted of three COM students: YIN Chuang from the PhD programme, and SHEN Anqi and DUAN Zening, who are both on the MA in Communication and New Media programme. Together, they won the First Place Theme Award and the Best Creative Exploration Award.

Professor Jonathan ZHU, Chair Professor of Computational Social Science and team supervisor, also won an Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award. He points to three ingredients for his success.

“Algorithms are very important because they are the entry ticket to the competition; data is even more important because it tells the story; and theory is the most important of all because it is the soul of the story,” the professor says.

The CityU trio worked hard for their win. Under the designated theme of “Opinion Mining of the Sino-India Doklam Stand-off Event”, they combined communication theory (such as Lasswell’s 5W model) and computational algorithms (involving word embedding and topic modelling) in their analysis to quantify how third-party opinions (independent of those from China and India) evolved dynamically, based on a rich pool of data from Twitter and other online media platforms.

The 2017 competition attracted more than 6,600 teams from China and overseas. More than half of the teams came from industry, and the rest from universities. The competition had 15,000 participants, 40% more than in the previous year’s contest, and included entries from the US, Britain, France, Japan and Australia. An overwhelming majority of the participants were computer scientists or engineers, but the COM team was the first to win a prize in this series of contests with a social sciences background.

The contest also highlighted CCF, which was established in 1962 and is a member of the China Association for Science and Technology.

Theory is the most important of all because it is the soul of the story
Professor Jonathan Zhu