User modeling on demographic attributes in big mobile social networks

Yuxiao Dong, Nitesh V. Chawla, Jie Tang, Yang Yang, Yang Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Users with demographic profiles in social networks offer the potential to understand the social principles that underpin our highly connected world, from individuals, to groups, to societies. In this article, we harness the power of network and data sciences to model the interplay between user demographics and social behavior and further study to what extent users' demographic profiles can be inferred from their mobile communication patterns. By modeling over 7 million users and 1 billion mobile communication records, we find that during the active dating period (i.e., 18-35 years old), users are active in broadening social connections with males and females alike, while after reaching 35 years of age people tend to keep small, closed, and same-gender social circles. Further, we formalize the demographic prediction problem of inferring users' gender and age simultaneously. We propose a factor graph-based WhoAmI method to address the problem by leveraging not only the correlations between network features and users' gender/age, but also the interrelations between gender and age. In addition, we identify a new problem-coupled network demographic prediction across multiple mobile operators- and present a coupled variant of the WhoAmI method to address its unique challenges. Our extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness, scalability, and applicability of the WhoAmI methods. Finally, our study finds a greater than 80% potential predictability for inferring users' gender from phone call behavior and 73% for users' age from text messaging interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35
JournalACM Transactions on Information Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Computational social science
  • Demographic prediction
  • Ego networks
  • Gender and age
  • Mobile communication
  • Mobile phone data
  • Node attributes
  • Social tie and triad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Computer Science Applications


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