Studying the World and Human Activity by Mining Photo-Sharing Websites

Wednesdays@NICO Seminar, Noon, May 11 2011, Chambers Hall, Lower Level

Prof. David Crandall, Northwestern University


The popularity of photo-sharing websites has created immense collections of images online, with Flickr and Facebook alone hosting over 50 billion images. Each of these photos is an observation of what a small part of the world looked like at a particular point in time and space, as well as a record of where its photographer was and what he or she was paying attention to. When aggregated together and combined with the non-visual metadata available on photo sharing sites (including timestamps, geo-tags, and captions), these billions of photos are a rich source of information about the world and about human activity. In this talk I'll discuss some of our recent work in data mining and computer vision that aims to unlock this latent information from photo-sharing sites. In particular, I'll focus on two recent lines of work: reconstructing maps and 3-d models of the world from online photos, and studying how patterns of human travel are correlated with (and predictive of) social connections.  


David Crandall is an Assistant Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, where he is a member of the programs in Informatics, Computer Science, and Cognitive Science, and of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research. He received the Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University in 2008 and the M.S. and B.S. degrees in computer science and engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 2001. He was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Cornell from 2008-2010, and a Senior Research Scientist with Eastman Kodak Company from 2001-2003. More information can be found at