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Analysis of the call group structure in the BT call records dataset

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Call record data from the BT Home OnLine study (1997-2000), which comprises household call records and extensive survey data for 400 households, is being used to explore the value of novel network analysis methods. The talk will discuss how ideas from teletraffic theory and social network analysis can inform the generation of new models for timing and dynamics of social interaction on the telephone. Calls to and from each subscriber are divided into “call groups”, where successive calls are less than 120 seconds apart. Through analysis of the start time and duration of over 1,200,000 telephone calls, insight is gained into the structure of call groups, through a Markov chain model, through calculation of conditional probabilities between successive calls in a group, and also through identification of for example, “grapevine” and “batch” calls. Grapevine calls occur when an incoming call is followed by several outgoing calls, for example when a subscriber receives a piece of news then makes other calls in order to spread the news or seek further information. Batch calls occur when for example, a subscriber chooses to make all their telephone calls to friends and family in one sitting. These dynamics have already been identified through interviews with subscribers; however this is the first time that analysis methods have been developed to quantify these effects by using appropriate algorithms on a large call record dataset which correlate the results to demographic data. Intriguingly this telephonic research is also generating new perspectives on grooming between chimpanzees.

By David Hunter and Ben Anderson, University of Essex.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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