Abdullah Almaatouq

Research Associate, PhD Student at MIT

Center of Excellence for Complex Engineering Systems

Abdullah Almaatouq is currently a Research Assistant at the Human Dynamics group led by professor Alex (Sandy) Pentland, and pursuing a PhD in Computational Science & Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also holds a Research Specialist position at the Center for Complex Engineering Systems (CCES) at King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) and MIT. He received his bachelor degree from the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at Southampton University in the United Kingdom.

Abdullah's current research interests lie in the area where machine learning, statistical inference, complex networks, and social science meet. Abdullah is passionate about people, their stories, and how they can be understood computationally. Despite the common perception that human actions are chaotic and unpredictable, humans exhibit regular, reproducible patterns. Studying the dynamics of human communications and information sharing behavior has multiple practical benefits. He is specially interested in its application to enhance the capacity of public safety organizations.

Since joining CCES, he has been developing tools and frameworks to gain insight into behavioral patterns within large datasets. For example, while working on the Cyber Security Initiative project (CSI), he worked on developing techniques and frameworks for data mining and machine learning in security-related contexts (e.g., spam, network traffic, system transactions etc.). He is also part of the City Dynamics project, where he develops mixture of modeling and analysis methods to better understand the dynamics of population demand and infrastructure supply within the cities, using digital traces such as mobile traces and social media data.

Some of Abdullah's interesting life experiences include winning the 2013 Bicoastal Datafest (Stanford & Columbia) 'Best in Innovation' prize, explaining the Origin-Destination Matrix and its role to exploit human mobility patterns to the Saudi Royalty (governors and mayors), and obtaining a black-belt status in Taekwondo from the Korean federation at the age of 14.

Publications
  • The City Browser: Utilizing Massive Call Data to Infer City Mobility Dynamics (ACM International Workshop on Urban Computing, New York)
  • Wired to Connect Analyzing Human Communication and Information Sharing Behavior during Extreme Events (KDD-LESI 2014)
  • Twitter: Who gets Caught? Observed Trends in Social Micro-blogging Spam (ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci '14, Indiana)
  • An Analysis of Twitter Spamming Behaviors (NetSci '14, Berkeley, USA)
  • Social Information Leakage: Effects of Awareness and Peer Pressure on User Behavior (International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction)
  • A Malicious Activity Detection System Utilizing Predictive Modeling in Complex Environments (IEEE CCNC - Security, Privacy and Content Protection)
  • The Influence of Social Norms on Synchronous versus Asynchronous Communication Technologies
  • Blue vs Pink: Gender-Based Characterization of Communication Behavior (Poster)
  • If it looks like a spammer and behaves like a spammer, it must be a spammer: analysis and detection of microblogging spam accounts