Social and Information Networks, Spring 2021

General Course Information

Instructor:  Ian Berlot-Attwell
Email:  course contact info (also on Quercus)
Office hours:  4-5PM Fridays (new link on Quercus). Fri 10AM, and Wed 10PM are available if you email me at least a day ahead of time.
Lectures:  Usually M,F 15:00-16:00, Zoom (link on Quercus)
Tutorial:  Usually W 15:00-16:00, Zoom (links on Quercus), [A-Z: Section #3]
Course Info Sheet:  course info sheet
Discussion Board:  link
MarkUs:  link

Course Description (mainly from Calendar)

A course on how networks underlie social phenomena with an emphasis on developing intuition and reasoning about broadly applicable concepts in network analysis. Topics include: introduction to graph theory, social networks and relevant concepts, congestion games, information networks, network dynamics, information diffusion, "six degrees of separation", community detection.


Required:  D. Easley and J. Kleinberg, Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World, 3rd Edition, Online version of EK textbook >

Grading Scheme

Participation:  5%; through open-book infinite-retry quizzes (will be posted to Quercus, best answered during tutorial)
Assignments:  two worth 15% each; Due dates: February 12 and March 26
Critical review of a current article:  worth 10% ; Due date: March 26
Term Test (open-book and take-home):  worth 20% ; Released Mar 12 at 12:01AM and due Mar 14 at 12:50PM (Toronto time)
Final Assessment (open-book and take-home):  worth 35%; Released April 14 at 9:00AM and due April 16 at 9:00AM (Toronto time)

The 20% Rule

You will receive 20% of the points for any (sub)problem for which you write "I do not know how to answer this question." You will receive 10% if you leave a question blank. If instead you submit irrelevant or erroneous answers you will receive 0 points. You will receive partial credit for work that is clearly "on the right track." The 20% rule applies to all term work: assignments, the term test, and the final exam.

Assignment Policy

Assignments will be submitted electronically on MarkUs. Late assignments not accepted by MarkUs will not be accepted by us. Accommodation will be made for medical reasons. All students will be given 12 two-hour grace tokens at the start of the term via MarkUs. Each token is single-use and extends the deadline by 2 hours. These tokens can only be used to extend either the A1, A2, or critical review deadlines. You can use (or not use) them as you see fit. To give an example, you can use all your tokens to extend the deadline of only A1 by 24 hours, or you could use them all to extend the deadlines of A1, A2 and the critical review all by 8 hours. MarkUs will automatically deduct the token(s), there is no need to notify us. Note that for group work, all team-members must have the required number of tokens, and the tokens will be deducted from all members.

Regrading Policy

If you believe that there was a significant mistake in how any question was graded, you may submit a one or two paragraph explanation (along with the original grading) as to why you believe the grade you received was a mistake. That explanation will be then re-considered by the grader. Please do not abuse this policy with minor complaints. Grading is subjective to some extent but we are trying to be as generous as possible. Clerical errors (i.e. grades not properly added or entered on Markus) can be rectified by the instructor.

Collaboration Policy and Academic Integrity

You are allowed to discuss assignment questions ( NOT test or final questions) with other students. You are allowed to consult additional materials, e.g., books, papers, websites. Nonetheless, the writeup of your solutions should be your own and should be done in isolation from other students and resources. In addition, you must clearly identify the names of students you collaborated with (if any) and provide a clear description of additional materials you consulted (if any).

The following rule of thumb might help you ensure that you are writing down your own understanding of a solution: (1) do not use any notes taken during discussions with other students or notes taken when looking at solutions on the internet, (2) take a one-hour break before writing down a solution after any discussions, (3) First try solving questions by yourself without any help.

Copying or allowing other students to copy solutions is a serious academic offense and will be reported. You might find the Arts and Science website on academic honesty (and references therein) helpful.

Email Policy

I read email regularly, but I do NOT promise to reply to all emails. In particular, if your question is of general interest, then you should post your question on Discourse. I will not always respond to a question on Discourse but may do so on the following lecture, so that the explanation can be well understood by all. In particular, if your question requires a relatively technical answer it may be best to ask it during a lecture, or a tutorial, or office hours.


Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please contact Accessibility Services at 416-978-8060;