Computational Social Science

With an increasing amount of data on every aspect of our daily activities – from what we buy, to where we travel, to who we know, and beyond – we are able to measure human behavior with precision largely thought impossible just a decade ago, creating an unprecedented opportunity to address longstanding questions in the social sciences.

Leveraging this sea of information requires both scalable computational tools, and understanding how the substantive scientific questions should drive the data analysis. Lying at the intersection of computer science, statistics and the social sciences, the emerging field of computational social science fills this role, using large-scale demographic, behavioral and network data to investigate human activity and relationships.

Computational social science is a fundamentally interdisciplinary subject, drawing on expertise in distributed algorithms, scalable statistical and machine learning methods, and several substantive social science fields, including sociology, economics, psychology, political science, and marketing. Given the area’s nascence and the wide range of necessary skills, we work collaboratively and value a broad range of perspectives.

Researcher Position

Seeking Full-time Researchers

Deadline for Full Consideration: December 31, 2016

Microsoft Research New York City seeks outstanding and experienced applicants for full-time researcher positions in computational social science or related fields, such as statistics, information science, and computational subfields of economics, psychology, political science or sociology. We welcome applicants at all levels, but especially those with established research track records and several years of post-PhD experience.

Microsoft Research offers an exhilarating and thriving environment for cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research, both theoretical and applied, with access to an extraordinary diversity of big and small data sources, an open publications policy, and close links to top academic institutions around the world. Microsoft Researchers define their own research agenda, driving forward an effective program of basic and applied research. In addition to working on challenging and fundamental problems, researchers have the potential to realize their ideas in products and services used worldwide.

Microsoft Research New York City is the newest MSR lab, comprising roughly thirty full-time researchers, postdocs, and engineers working in machine learning, systems, computational social science, algorithmic economics, information retrieval, and social media. The lab is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, and is actively engaged with the local academic and tech communities. The computational social science group includes Dan Goldstein, Shawndra Hill, Jake Hofman, Justin Rao, David Rothschild, Siddharth Suri, Hanna Wallach, and Duncan Watts. For a sampling of recent publications, please see the MSR NYC Computational Social Science website.

We seek applicants from all areas of computational social science and related fields with a passion and demonstrated ability to craft and pursue an independent research program, including a strong publication record at top research venues and significant research experience beyond the doctorate or post-doctorate level. The ideal applicant will possess awareness of the theoretical and experimental social science literature, experience with experimental design, as well as demonstrated statistical modeling and computer programming competence.

The ideal candidate for this position will have:

  • a PhD in computer science, statistics, or a related social science field
  • strong mathematical and computer programming skills
  • significant research experience beyond the doctorate or post-doctorate level (although outstanding junior candidates may also be considered);
  • a well-established research program demonstrated, for example, by journal and conference publications, and participation on program committees, editorial boards, etc.;
  • strong communication skills
  • the ability to work in a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary environment

How to apply

To apply, submit an online application on the Microsoft Research Careers website.  To be assured of full consideration, all materials, including reference letters, need to be received by December 31, 2016.  Applications received after that date may or may not be considered. In completing your application, please be sure to follow these additional instructions:

  1. In addition to submitting your CV and the names of at least three referees, as required by the online application, please also upload the following three attachments:
    • two conference or journal articles, book chapters, or equivalent writing samples (uploaded as two separate attachments);
    • an academic research statement (approximately 3-4 pages) that outlines your research achievements and agenda.
  1. Indicate that your research area of interest is “Computational Social Science” and that your location preference is “New York.” Include “Duncan Watts” as the name of a Microsoft Research contact (you may include additional contacts as well). Note: If you do not mark these preferences, it is very unlikely that we will receive your application.

After you submit your application, a request for letters may be sent to your list of referees on your behalf. Note that reference letters cannot be requested until after you have submitted your application, and furthermore, that they might not be automatically requested for all candidates. You may wish to alert your letter writers in advance so they will be ready to submit your letter by our application deadline of December 31, 2016. You can check the progress on individual reference requests by clicking the status tab within your application page.

Microsoft is committed to building a culturally diverse workforce and strongly encourages applications from female and minority candidates.

Postdoc Positions

Call for Postdocs

Application deadline: December 31, 2016

Microsoft Research NYC seeks outstanding applicants with strong quantitative and programming skills for postdoctoral researchers in the area of computational social science. Microsoft Research offers an exhilarating and thriving environment for cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research, both theoretical and applied, with access to an extraordinary diversity of big and small data sources, an open publications policy, and close links to top academic institutions around the world. Microsoft Researchers define their own research agenda, driving forward an effective program of basic and applied research. In addition to working on challenging and fundamental problems, they have the potential to realize their ideas in products and services used worldwide.

Microsoft Research New York City is the newest MSR lab, comprising roughly thirty full-time researchers and postdocs working in machine learning, systems, computational social science, algorithmic economics, information retrieval, and social media. The lab is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, and is actively engaged with the local academic and tech communities. The computational social science group includes Dan Goldstein, Shawndra Hill, Jake Hofman, Justin Rao, David Rothschild, Siddharth Suri, Hanna Wallach, and Duncan Watts. For a sampling of recent publications, please see the MSR NYC Computational Social Science website.

Postdoc positions at Microsoft Research provide emerging scholars an opportunity to develop their research careers as members of a very computational social science community at a world-class research organization. The ideal applicant will possess awareness of the theoretical and experimental social science literature, experience with experimental design, as well as demonstrated statistical modeling and computer programming expertise.

Postdocs receive a competitive salary and benefits package, and are eligible for relocation expenses.  Postdocs are typically hired for a two-year term appointment following the academic calendar, starting in July 2017.  Applicants must have completed the requirements for a PhD, including final submission of their dissertation, prior to joining Microsoft Research.  Applicants with tenure-track offers from other institutions will be considered, provided they are able to defer their start date to accept our position.

The ideal candidate for this position will have:

  • a PhD in computer science, statistics, or a related social science field
  • strong mathematical and computer programming skills
  • strong communication skills
  • the ability to work in a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary environment

How to apply

To apply, submit an online application on the Microsoft Research Careers website.  To be assured of full consideration, all materials, including reference letters, need to be received by December 31, 2016.  Applications received after that date may or may not be considered. In completing your application, please be sure to follow these additional instructions:

  1. In addition to submitting your CV and the names of three referees (including your dissertation advisor) as required by the online application, please also upload the following three attachments:
    • two conference or journal articles, book chapters, or equivalent writing samples (uploaded as two separate attachments);
    • an academic research statement (approximately 3-4 pages) that outlines your research achievements and agenda.
  2. Indicate that your research area of interest is “Computational Social Science” and that your location preference is “New York.”  Include “Duncan Watts” as the name of a Microsoft Research contact (you may include additional contacts as well). Note: If you do not mark these preferences, it is very unlikely that we will receive your application.

After you submit your application, a request for letters will be sent to your list of referees on your behalf.  Note: The application system will not request reference letters until after you have submitted your application.  You may wish to alert your letter writers in advance so that they will be ready to submit your letter by our application deadline of December 31, 2016.  You can check the progress on individual reference requests by clicking the status tab within your application page.

Microsoft is committed to building a culturally diverse workforce and strongly encourages applications from female and minority candidates.

Selected Publications

People

Publications