School of Computing and Engineering

Large-scale Social Network Analysis on Amazon Clouds

Primary supervisor: Dr Wei Jie

Start dates: January, May and September of each academic year

Duration: This is a three-year position.

Research context

Research at the University of West London lives in an ecosystem of interdisciplinary research. This PhD position is based in the School of Computing and Engineering.

The scale of a social network grows dramatically. Mining the structure of those networks within a reasonable time becomes a great challenge due to heavy computations. The project aims to design and implement algorithms and software tools for large-scale social network analysis. The results can detect the community structure of a large-scale social network, understand the behaviours of individual members in the network, interaction models between members, as well the properties of belonging communities as a whole. The algorithm and tool will be tested and evaluated on the Amazon Cloud platform.

This project has received an Amazon Research Grant that enables the School to use Amazon’s world-leading Cloud computing resources to conduct the project. The output generated from this project will be visible to a wider community through publications and open-source software. This is a joint project by the University of West London and Chinese institutions.

Research goal

This project aims to develop algorithms and software tools for large-scale social network analysis. More specifically, the project aims to:

  • Design innovative algorithms and models for large-scale social network analysis.
  • Develop software tools that implement the proposed algorithms and model, in particular, parallelised algorithms which will be implemented on Apache Giraph, an open source large-scale graph processing system that utilises Apache Hadoop's MapReduce implementation to process big graphs.
  • Demonstrate and evaluate the social network analysis tools on Amazon Clouds. Experiments will be conducted to benchmark the performance of the developed algorithm and tool.

Candidate profile

The ideal candidate should have an MSc or equivalent degree in computer science and combine solid theoretical background and excellent software development skills. Strong commitment to reaching research excellence and achieving assigned objectives is required, as well as an ability to work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment. It is expected that the PhD candidate will carry out applied research work that will start from the establishment of a theoretical framework, continue with the implementation of a software prototype and the experimentation with real data, and conclude with the validation of a proposed solution through real applications/case studies. 

Background knowledge and/or previous experience in the following areas/technologies, will be considered very favourably: 

  • Big data storage and processing
  • Cloud computing architecture, infrastructure, and solution design
  • Social network analysis algorithms and techniques
  • Amazon Web Services system and software development

All applicants for whom English is not their first language must also demonstrate their English language proficiency through evidence of IELTS at overall 7 (with 6.5 in all four skills) or by providing access to MA/MSc chapters or published work.

Further information

For general enquiries about the application process visit the Graduate School pages.

Questions regarding academic aspects of the project should be directed to