Exploitation of physical constraints for reliable social sensing

Dong Wang, Tarek Abdelzaher, Lance Kaplan, Raghu Ganti, Shaohan Hu, Hengchang Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper develops and evaluates algorithms for exploiting physical constraints to improve the reliability of social sensing. Social sensing refers to applications where a group of sources (e.g., individuals and their mobile devices) volunteer to collect observations about the physical world. A key challenge in social sensing is that the reliability of sources and their devices is generally unknown, which makes it non-trivial to assess the correctness of collected observations. To solve this problem, the paper adopts a cyber-physical approach, where assessment of correctness of individual observations is aided by knowledge of physical constraints on both sources and observed variables to compensate for the lack of information on source reliability. We cast the problem as one of maximum likelihood estimation. The goal is to jointly estimate both (i) the latent physical state of the observed environment, and (ii) the inferred reliability of individual sources such that they are maximally consistent with both provenance information (who claimed what) and physical constraints. We evaluate the new framework through a real-world social sensing application. The results demonstrate significant performance gains in estimation accuracy of both source reliability and observation correctness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - IEEE 34th Real-Time Systems Symposium, RTSS 2013
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2013
EventIEEE 34th Real-Time Systems Symposium, RTSS 2013 - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Duration: Dec 3 2013Dec 6 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings - Real-Time Systems Symposium
ISSN (Print)1052-8725


OtherIEEE 34th Real-Time Systems Symposium, RTSS 2013
CityVancouver, BC


  • Maximum likelihood estimation
  • Physical constraints
  • Social sensing
  • Truth discovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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