Completed Thesis, Sarah Favre, Idiap Research Institute
On Dec 8th 2010, Sarah Favre successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled "Social Network Analysis for Automatic Role Recognition".
The computing community has shown a significant interest for the analysis of social interactions in the last decade. Different aspects of social interactions have been studied such as dominance, emotions, conflicts, etc. However, the recognition of roles has been neglected whereas these are a key aspect of social interactions. In fact, sociologists have shown not only that people play roles each time they interact, but also that roles shape behavior and expectations of interacting participants. The aim of this thesis is to fill this gap by investigating the problem of automatic role recognition in a wide range of interaction settings, including production environments, e.g. news and talk-shows, and spontaneous exchanges, e.g. meetings.
The proposed role recognition approach includes two main steps. The first step aims at representing the individuals involved in an interaction with feature vectors accounting for their relationships with others. This step includes three main stages, namely segmentation of audio into turns (i.e. time intervals during which only one person talks), conversion of the sequence of turns into a social network, and use of the social network as a tool to extract features for each person. The second step uses machine learning methods to map the feature vectors into roles. The experiments have been carried out over roughly 90 hours of material. This is not only one of the largest databases ever used in literature on role recognition, but also the only one, to the best of our knowledge, including different interaction settings. In the experiments, the accuracy of the percentage of data correctly labeled in terms of roles is roughly 80% in production environments and 70% in spontaneous exchanges (lexical features have been added in the latter case). The importance of roles has been assessed in an application scenario as well. In particular, the thesis shows that roles help to segment talk-shows into stories, i.e. time intervals during which a single topic is discussed, with satisfactory performance.
The main contributions of this thesis are as follows: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work where social network analysis is applied to automatic analysis of conversation recordings. This thesis provides the first quantitative measure of how much roles constrain conversations, and a large corpus of recordings annotated in terms of roles. The results of this work have been published in one journal paper, and in five conference articles.
Keywords: Social Network Analysis, Role Recognition, Semantic Segmentation, Broad- cast Data, Meeting Recordings, Turn-Taking Analysis, Bayes Classifiers, Hidden Markov Models, Statistical Language