Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as more specialized sites such as Yelp, host massive amounts of content by users about their real-life experiences and opinions. This effort, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), focuses on the detection of disease outbreaks in New York City restaurants. The goal of the project is to identify and analyze the unprecedented volumes of user-contributed opinions and comments about restaurants on social media sites, to extract reliable indicators of otherwise-unreported disease outbreaks associated with the restaurants. The NYC DOHMH analyzes these indicators, as they are produced, to decide when additional action is merited. This project is developing non-traditional information extraction technology --over redundant, noisy, and often ungrammatical text-- for a public health task of high importance to society at large.
Luis Gravano has been on the faculty of the Computer Science Department, Columbia University, since 1997, where he has been an associate professor since 2002. In 2001, Luis was a Senior Research Scientist at Google (on leave from Columbia University). He received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1997. He also received an M.S. degree from Stanford University in 1994 and a B.S. degree from the Escuela Superior Latinoamericana de Informática (ESLAI), Argentina, in 1991.