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Twitter Data Changing Future of Population Research

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Artist's representation of computing in the cloud.

Twitter is turning out to be a powerful tool, with the data generated representing the largest publicly accessible archive of human behavior in existence.

Credit: Kalawin/

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) have collected more than 30 terabytes of geo-tagged tweets over the last four years as part of a project they say could change the landscape of population research.

The new research could enable demographers to take advantage of geo-tagged Twitter data and strengthen studies in a range of other fields that use demographic data.

The researchers built a high-performance computing cluster with enough storage capacity to collect, manage, and analyze the data.

"In addition, a distributed computing environment with integrated machine learning and data-mining packages and toolsets is up and running to provide efficient parallel data processing, which includes data extraction, calculation, and analysis," says PSU researcher Junjun Yin.

The researchers also developed data-processing programs so the data can be useful to researchers from many disciplines.

The team also is developing algorithm models to predict the composition of a group of Twitter users.

From Penn State News
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