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Title: Trust-based algorithms for fusing crowdsourced estimates of continuous quantities
Author: Venanzi, Matteo
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 1762
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Crowdsourcing has provided a viable way of gathering information at unprecedented volumes and speed by engaging individuals to perform simple micro–tasks. In particular, the crowdsourcing paradigm has been successfully applied to participatory sensing, in which the users perform sensing tasks and provide data using their mobile devices. In this way, people can help solve complex environmental sensing tasks, such as weather monitoring, nuclear radiation monitoring and cell tower mapping, in a highly decentralised and parallelised fashion. Traditionally, crowdsourcing technologies were primarily used for gathering data for classifications and image labelling tasks. In contrast, such crowd–based participatory sensing poses new challenges that relate to (i) dealing with human–reported sensor data that are available in the form of continuous estimates of an observed quantity such as a location, a temperature or a sound reading, (ii) dealing with possible spatial and temporal correlations within the data and (ii) issues of data trustworthiness due to the unknown capabilities and incentives of the participants and their devices. Solutions to these challenges need to be able to combine the data provided by multiple users to ensure the accuracy and the validity of the aggregated results. With this in mind, our goal is to provide methods to better aid the aggregation process of crowd–reported sensor estimates of continuous quantities when data are provided by individuals of varying trustworthiness. To achieve this, we develop a trust–based in- formation fusion framework that incorporates latent trustworthiness traits of the users within the data fusion process. Through this framework, we develop a set of four novel algorithms (MaxTrust, BACE, TrustGP and TrustLGCP) to compute reliable aggregations of the users’ reports in both the settings of observing a stationary quantity (Max- Trust and BACE) and a spatially distributed phenomenon (TrustGP and TrustLGCP). The key feature of all these algorithm is the ability of (i) learning the trustworthiness of each individual who provide the data and (ii) exploit this latent user’s trustworthiness information to compute a more accurate fused estimate. In particular, this is achieved by using a probabilistic framework that allows our methods to simultaneously learn the fused estimate and the users’ trustworthiness from the crowd reports. We validate our algorithms in four key application areas (cell tower mapping, WiFi networks mapping, nuclear radiation monitoring and disaster response) that demonstrate the practical impact of our framework to achieve substantially more accurate and informative predictions compared to the existing fusion methods. We expect that results of this thesis will allow to build more reliable data fusion algorithms for the broad class of human–centred information systems (e.g., recommendation systems, peer reviewing systems, student grading tools) that are based on making decisions upon subjective opinions provided by their users.
Supervisor: Jennings, Nicholas ; Rogers, Alexander Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science