Carnegie Mellon University
March 07, 2011

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon and Singapore Management University To Create the Living Analytics Research Center

Pioneering Effort To Create Ways of Understanding Consumer and Social Behavior by Combining Advances From Computing, Social Science and Management


Contact: Ken Walters / Carnegie Mellon University / 412-268-1151 /
Liang Hwee Ting / Singapore Management University / DID: +65-68085192 /
Jasmine Wong / Media Development Authority of Singapore / DID: +65 9726 3158 /

SINGAPORE—Singapore Management University (SMU) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have teamed up to establish the Living Analytics Research Center (LARC). The center will develop new techniques to acquire data on consumer and social behavior and pioneer new approaches to analyze such data to develop applications and methods that will benefit consumers, businesses and society.

The collaboration has received a $20 million grant over five years from the National Research Foundation in Singapore. This fund is managed through the multi-agency Interactive Digital Media Programme Office (IDMPO) hosted by Media Development Authority of Singapore. With SMU and CMU committed to cash and in-kind contributions, and third party funding, the $47 million center will establish Singapore as one of the world's pre-eminent centers of excellence in computational social science.

The living analytics research program is distinctive in that it combines the key technologies of Big Data (large scale data mining, statistical machine learning, and computational tools for the analysis of dynamic social networks) with analytics focused on consumer behavior and social media.

"We are honored to have this extraordinary LARC opportunity that takes our existing relationship with CMU to a new level of research intensity," said SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer. "The SMU-CMU collaboration gives us a global edge in interdisciplinary research that integrates computation, management, and social science. The LARC is a giant step forward in SMU's drive to becoming a global leader in research and education at the intersection of business, behavioral and social analytics. Also, this partnership takes advantage of SMU's unusual composition of having a powerful School of Information Systems in the midst of what is otherwise a management and social science oriented university."

"The Living Analytics Research Center builds on CMU's successful collaborations with SMU over the years," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "We are pleased to be partnering with SMU on such an exciting initiative, one that has great potential for groundbreaking work in the emerging field of computational social science."

The pervasive use of social and digital media, personal digital devices and smart infrastructure has created rapidly expanding streams of data that provide more complete information about people's behaviors as they live, consume and interact. This data can be used to eventually develop new types of practical applications for individual consumers, business service providers and public sector service providers across a range of lifestyle, consumer and industry settings.

The LARC will also study the complex trade-offs between privacy protection and the benefits of sharing one's information with a broader social network. This will be done in a variety of ways, including technology for privacy protection, as well as economic and behavioral approaches to explore how people prefer to make these trade-offs.

The center will advance the large-scale analysis of lifestyle behavior data with its emphasis on near real-time analysis of streams of information that are continuously evolving. The LARC can do this quickly at societal scale, combining information from individuals and from the surrounding network context, across multiple sources of information, and over extended periods of time. To accomplish this, the center will develop new models to explain and predict social and consumer behavior in networked contexts.

The center will draw on the cross-disciplinary strengths of SMU and CMU faculty and span the two universities. It will be physically anchored at SMU's School of Information Systems in Singapore and at CMU's Heinz College iLab in Pittsburgh.

SMU will host the test beds, serve as the anchor node of the eco-system of partner organizations that will engage with the LARC and be the focal point of research engagement by teams co-led by SMU and CMU faculty.

In Singapore, the project will involve School of Information Systems faculty as well as faculty from SMU's five other Schools — Business, Economics, Social Sciences, Law and Accountancy. The LARC will also work closely with several of SMU's existing university-wide research institutes, especially the Institute for Service Excellence at SMU (ISES), the Behavioral Sciences Institute, and the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

Faculty members from four of CMU's seven academic units will participate, including the H. John Heinz III College, the School of Computer Science, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Tepper School of Business.

"Singapore is the best place in the world to establish the living analytics effort because of our intense use of digital and social media, our intelligent infrastructure, our IT savvy population and our spirit of always looking to explore how to use emerging social trends for our societal and economic benefit," said Professor Steven Miller, dean of the SMU School of Information Systems. "The LARC concept and the tools we will develop will be applicable to many of the world's leading urban centers. Business and government innovation leaders from these other cities will want to come to Singapore to learn what we are doing here with living analytics."

"CMU has a long history of doing pioneering work at the interface of advanced computational and social and behavioral science," said Ramayya Krishnan, dean of CMU's Heinz College and director of its iLab. "Living analytics is our next major step in this direction. It enables us to combine our strength in machine learning, statistics, management science and social science — making us the ideal partner for SMU. Together, we are uniquely positioned to become leaders in the field of living analytics research. As information technology increasingly enables people to live their lives in social network-centric worlds, we can produce new tools and ways of thinking that will have considerable value for society and business organizations."

Through the LARC and this new five-year CMU research partnership, SMU expects to dramatically improve the quality of the applicant pool to its various Ph.D. programs. Over the next five years, 40 SMU doctoral students working on living analytics projects, mostly from the School of Information Systems, will be sponsored by the center to spend an academic year at CMU's Pittsburgh campus, immersed in cutting-edge research activity with center-related faculty.

On supporting the LARC, Michael Yap, executive director of IDMPO, said: "The research work of LARC will generate new social and lifestyle insights to provide context-relevant information for consumers at the right time. The combined strengths of CMU and SMU puts Singapore on the map of this fast-growing area and in time, will provide companies with the edge to better connect and transform businesses."