David Lazer

Professor: Interdisciplinary with College of Social Sciences & Humanities

Sample research projects in the Lazer Lab:

Collective cognition: how do we think together? Our collective creativity is not simply the sum of our individual imaginations, but somehow emerges from a social process where ideas flow from one mind to another, recombining into something new. The Lazer Lab is using both experimental methods and computational modeling to understand the collective human mind. This is work in collaboration with Northeastern faculty Brooke Foucault Welles, Christoph Riedl, and Waleed Meleis.

Personalization: How do individuals have different experiences in the Internet? While each of us sees the same thing when we enter a supermarket, the virtual world is reconstituted each time someone walks through a virtual doorway. Increasingly this means that we experience different things in the same virtual location—we get different information on Google, different prices on travel websites, and so on. Such algorithmically driven personalization offers the promise of getting each individual the information they want; but it also poses multiple challenges. Is there a danger of building a “filter bubble” around individual, through which uncomfortable information never passes? Does the possibility of customized pricing (aka price discrimination and price steering) challenge basic social mores of fairness? This work is in collaboration with Northeastern faculty Christo Wilson and Alan Mislove.

Research Interests

Computational social science, network science, collective cognition, political networks, social influence in networks, social media, deliberative democracy, predictive modeling.

Education

  • BA in Economics | Wesleyan University
  • PhD in Political Science | University of Michigan

Google Scholar Page

Biography

David Lazer is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University, and Co-Director, NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Prior to coming to Northeastern University, he was on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School (1998-2009).

His research focuses on the nexus of network science, computational social science, and collaborative intelligence. He is the founder of the citizen science website Volunteer Science and the political visualization website VisPolics. His research has been published in such journals as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the American Political Science Review, and the Administrative Science Quarterly, and has received extensive coverage in the media, including the New York Times, NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS Evening News.

Dr. Lazer serves in multiple leadership and editorial positions, including as a board member for the International Network of Social Network Analysts (INSNA), reviewing editor for Science, associate editor of Social Networks and Network Science, numerous other editorial boards and program committees. He was a founder of the Political Networks Section, and a founder and founding host of the Political Networks conference.

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