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‘This Summer School Made Me Realise How Important Data Analytics Actually Is Nowadays’

‘This Summer School Made Me Realise How Important Data Analytics Actually Is Nowadays’

© HSE University

From July 4–8, the 14th Summer School ‘Methods and Tools for Analysing Social Networks’ was held by the International Laboratory for Applied Network Research (ANR Lab).

The dissemination of knowledge about the most recent methods of network analysis is one of the goals of the laboratory. Social network analysis is an interdisciplinary field that studies networks of interactions between different objects (such as people, organisations, institutions, countries, words in texts, texts on the internet) and identifying hidden patterns within them. The ANR-Lab team regularly organises events aimed at exchanging research and practical experience in network analysis, and summer schools are one of the most effective ways to quickly get immersed in a new field and get acquainted with the research carried out by the laboratory's employees.

Any students interested in applying network analysis inSchool Participants their work and studies could participate in the summer school. More than 350 registered participants from academia and industry were invited to participate. To successfully complete the school programme, the participants implemented the final task and received certificates of successful completion.

Scientists from various HSE departments, as well as students (including master's students of the programme in Applied Statistics with Network Analysis) take part in the summer school. This year, 38% of the participants were HSE University students (77%) and staff (23%). The majority of the participants who registered for the school (45%) were representatives of other universities in Russia, CIS and other countries. In total, representatives of more than 10 countries took part in the event.

Industry representatives were also in attendance. In addition to representatives of the research market, there were also participants from manufacturing industries and online commerce, the IT sector (including analysts, developers, and software engineers), banking and education. This variety highlights the demand for network analysis in many areas far beyond traditional marketing analytics.

The school was held for five days in an online format. The following leading international researchers in the field of network analysis participated in the school as organisers and speakers: Anuška Ferligoj, Professor and ANR-Lab Scientific Supervisor; Vladimir Batagelj, Professor and leading researcher; and Marjan Cugmas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Methodology and Informatics of the University of Ljubljana.

ANR-lab members delivered lectures at the school: Laboratory Head Daria Maltseva, Deputy Laboratory Head and Senior Researcher Irina Pavlova, researchers Ilya Karpov, Tamara Shcheglova, Aryuna Kim, Alexander Pakhomov, and analysts Sergey Davydov and Anna Semenova. Research assistants Vasilisa Vashchenko and Lika Kapustina also participated in the event as speakers.

The students learned the basics of working in the network analysis programs Pajek, Gephi, VOSviewer, and R. The speakers covered special areas in network analysis developed by the laboratory staff, including network clustering and blockmodeling, network analysis of text data, and qualitative network analysis. Application projects implemented using network analysis methods were presented in separate slots.

A detailed programme of the summer school can be found here and the lab Telegram channel Nodes and Links. The lectures are available here.

Irina Pavlova, Senior Researcher, Deputy Head of ANR-Lab

Our summer school turned out to be very rich in content. Anyone who couldn’t take part in the school can watch lectures online. If you are interested in learning how to use programs for network analysis, we recommend watching classes about Pajek, Gephi, VOSviewer, and R. Those who are interested in modern development in the field of network analysis methodology can watch the reports by Marjan Cugmas, Vasilisa Vashchenko and Ilya Karpov. And if you want to learn about the application of network analysis in projects, see the reports of Sergey Davydov and Lika Kapustina. The school programme also featured reports on quality network analysis, which we delivered on the fifth day of the summer school.

Daria Maltseva, Head of ANR-Lab

Summer schools help us attract a new and interested audience, enhance the skills of our employees, and share our research experience in the field of social network analysis with each other and other students. This helps us create a unique intellectual synergy that promotes HSE University and ANR-Lab as a leading centre of excellence in network analysis. This year we received a record number of applications from external students—we have never received so many submissions in the entire history of our summer school! We are glad that the event interested so many participants and hope that we’ll be able to involve new staff, colleagues and partners, as well as students of our master's programme ‘Applied Statistics with Network Analysis’ in the laboratory’s activity, thus forming a community of network researchers in Russia. We will continue to organise schools, and not just summer schools!

The school participants also shared their impressions.

Bharanidharan Jayakumar, India

The invite to the 14th summer school was a blessing in disguise honestly. I never attended one previously and was curious to know what would happen. But I must admit that after five days of intense lectures and knowledge sharing, I appreciate the field of social network analysis much more.

The school was meticulously planned over five days, with topics covering subjects such as Social Network Analysis Theory, tools and programs for visualising social networks (Pajek, VOSViewer, and Gephi), the use of programming languages like R and Python, and even state-of-the-art graph neural networks. No stone was left unturned—even the qualitative details of SNA were presented as well. The blend of theory and practice was perfect!

My favourite topic among many (I must say, it was a difficult choice) was the application of graph neural networks in SNA with Python and Pajek programming for visualisation. Every speaker had a thorough understanding of the topic they presented.

The most unexpected thing I learned from the summer school was that ‘everything can be imagined to be a network.’ This was proved by every speaker through amazing visualisations with various tools/programs. The visuals were truly marvellous—it was like watching a movie.

Finally, on the organisational side, the school was amazing in all aspects. I want to attend a future event in person. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one who was involved in making this summer school a great spectacle. Special praises are reserved for Dr Daria and Dr Irina. They were splendid!

Sofia Larens, Estonia

Overall, I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in this summer school.

My favourite section of the summer school was about the practical usage of data analytics and conducting research. This part made me realise how important data analytics actually is nowadays and how social network analysis can become essential in any field you want to work in. I've never dealt with anything similar before, so this summer school was very eye-opening for me. I had never thought about the existence of such useful tools and the importance of visualisation in all areas of life.

Even though studying was pretty hard for me because everything was new, the lecturers and organisers were always ready to answer any questions and help us understand the topic better.

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