A&S student combines interests in CS, social systems to study teams

People are often more confident when working in a team than when working alone. Andrew Wang ‘19 is uncovering the mechanisms behind this confidence boost by studying social and linguistic expressions of confidence in online teamwork.

Wang, a triple major in computer science, philosophy and math, is also a Tanner Dean’s Scholar in the College of Arts & Sciences who received a grant this past summer for his research.

Wang is interested in social and information networks and the fundamentals of social processes. He is a member of the Natural Language Processing Group, led by Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, assistant professor of information science. The lab is interested in computational models of human language and machine learning.  

“Though much research has centered around the quality of solutions produced by teams, we felt that there was much room to explore the social factors mediating teamwork that perhaps influence team solutions in surprising or unjustified ways,” Wang said.

Wang’s team found that confidence is key. Having a confident teammate can do more to boost a person’s self-confidence than having a smart and skillful teammate.

“This finding has implications for designing systems and interfaces that facilitate online teamwork,” he said adding that it could “pave the way for further research into characterizing confidence-building in teams or eventually toward systems that intervene into real-life teams during the collaboration process in order to improve solution outcomes or team members’ experiences.”

Wang helped to co-write a paper based on these results, which is currently under review by the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI).

In 2017, Wang worked at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL) Data Science Lab, a research group in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.

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Headshot of Andrew Wang '19