Faculty Candidate Seminar

Data Science for Human Well-being

Tim AlthoffPh.D. CandidateStanford

The popularity of wearable and mobile devices, including smartphones and
smartwatches, has generated an explosion of detailed behavioral data. These massive digital
traces provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to realize new types of scientific approaches
that provide novel insights about our lives, health, and happiness. However, gaining valuable
insights from these data requires new computational approaches that turn observational,
scientifically "weak" data into strong scientific results and can computationally test domain
theories at scale.

In this talk, I will describe novel computational methods that leverage digital activity traces at the
scale of billions of actions taken by millions of people. These methods combine insights from
data mining, social network analysis, and natural language processing to generate actionable
insights about our physical and mental well-being. Specifically, I will describe how massive
digital activity traces reveal unknown health inequality around the world, and how personalized
predictive models can target personalized interventions to combat this inequality. I will
demonstrate that modelling how fast we are using search engines enables new types of insights
into sleep and cognitive performance. Further, I will describe how natural language processing
methods can help improve counseling services for millions of people in crisis.

I will conclude the talk by sketching interesting future directions for computational approaches
that leverage digital activity traces to better understand and improve human well-being.

Tim Althoff is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science in the Infolab at Stanford University,
advised by Jure Leskovec. His research advances computational methods to improve human
well-being, combining techniques from Data Mining, Social Network Analysis, and Natural
Language Processing. Prior to his PhD, Tim obtained M.S. and B.S. degrees from Stanford
University and University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. He has received several fellowships and
awards including the SAP Stanford Graduate Fellowship, Fulbright scholarship, German
Academic Exchange Service scholarship, the German National Merit Foundation scholarship,
and a Best Paper Award by the International Medical Informatics Association. Tim's research
has been covered internationally by news outlets including BBC, CNN, The Economist, The
Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

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