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Finding email correspondents in online social networks

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Email correspondents play an important role in many people’s social networks. Finding email correspondents in social networks accurately, though may seem to be straightforward at a first glance, is challenging. Most of the existing online social networking sites recommend possible matches by comparing the information of email accounts and social network profiles, such as display names and email addresses. However, as shown empirically in this paper, such methods may not be effective in practice. To the best of our knowledge, this problem has not been carefully and thoroughly addressed in research. In this paper, we systematically investigate the problem and develop a practical data mining approach. We find that using only the profiles or the graph structures is far from effective. Our method utilizes the similarity between email accounts and social network user profiles, and at the same time explores the similarity between the email communication network and the social network under investigation. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method using two real data sets on emails and Facebook.

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Author information

Correspondence to Jian Pei.

Additional information

We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions, which help to improve the quality of this paper. This research is supported in part by an NSERC Discovery Grant, a BCFRST NRAS Endowment Research Team Program project, two SAP Business Objects ARC Fellowships, and two NSERC CRD Research Grants, and a GRAND NCE project. All opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies.

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Cui, Y., Pei, J., Tang, G. et al. Finding email correspondents in online social networks. World Wide Web 16, 195–218 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11280-012-0168-2

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  • email mining
  • social network mining
  • recommendation systems
  • string matching
  • graph matching