Purdue University Graduate School
yiyulai_phd_dissertation_final.pdf (4.85 MB)

Relational Representation Learning Incorporating Textual Communication for Social Networks

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posted on 2021-03-01, 23:19 authored by Yi-Yu LaiYi-Yu Lai
Representation learning (RL) for social networks facilitates real-world tasks such as visualization, link prediction and friend recommendation. Many methods have been proposed in this area to learn continuous low-dimensional embedding of nodes, edges or relations in social and information networks. However, most previous network RL methods neglect social signals, such as textual communication between users (nodes). Unlike more typical binary features on edges, such as post likes and retweet actions, social signals are more varied and contain ambiguous information. This makes it more challenging to incorporate them into RL methods, but the ability to quantify social signals should allow RL methods to better capture the implicit relationships among real people in social networks. Second, most previous work in network RL has focused on learning from homogeneous networks (i.e., single type of node, edge, role, and direction) and thus, most existing RL methods cannot capture the heterogeneous nature of relationships in social networks. Based on these identified gaps, this thesis aims to study the feasibility of incorporating heterogeneous information, e.g., texts, attributes, multiple relations and edge types (directions), to learn more accurate, fine-grained network representations.
In this dissertation, we discuss a preliminary study and outline three major works that aim to incorporate textual interactions to improve relational representation learning. The preliminary study learns a joint representation that captures the textual similarity in content between interacting nodes. The promising results motivate us to pursue broader research on using social signals for representation learning. The first major component aims to learn explicit node and relation embeddings in social networks. Traditional knowledge graph (KG) completion models learn latent representations of entities and relations by interpreting them as translations operating on the embedding of the entities. However, existing approaches do not consider textual communications between users, which contain valuable information to provide meaning and context for social relationships. We propose a novel approach that incorporates textual interactions between each pair of users to improve representation learning of both users and relationships. The second major component focuses on analyzing how users interact with each other via natural language content. Although the data is interconnected and dependent, previous research has primarily focused on modeling the social network behavior separately from the textual content. In this work, we model the data in a holistic way, taking into account the connections between the social behavior of users and the content generated when they interact, by learning a joint embedding over user characteristics and user language. In the third major component, we consider the task of learning edge representations in social networks. Edge representations are especially beneficial as we need to describe or explain the relationships, activities, and interactions among users. However, previous work in this area lack well-defined edge representations and ignore the relational signals over multiple views of social networks, which typically contain multi-view contexts (due to multiple edge types) that need to be considered when learning the representation. We propose a new methodology that captures asymmetry in multiple views by learning well-defined edge representations and incorporates textual communications to identify multiple sources of social signals that moderate the impact of different views between users.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Computer Science

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jennifer Neville

Additional Committee Member 2

Dan Goldwasser

Additional Committee Member 3

Ninghui Li

Additional Committee Member 4

Clifton W. Bingham