*designed for upper-level undergrad CS majors *


This course will cover algorithm design of search over the internet. Special emphasis will be placed on rank aggregation methods, data mining and web genres. Practical examples will be used to demonstrate the concepts and techniques. Students will receive hand-on experiences.


The intended innovation is pairing technical and social skills' acumen in one course. So yes we will code (in Python) while we also delve into the social implications of what we code through readings and class discussions. Algorithmic design and choice leads to particular systemic decisions being made with associated ramifications. These ramifications may have specific impact on marginalized communities, in particular Black women. 

Digital Spaces (Week 1 - 4)
  • Search Engine Architecture

  • Link Analysis 

  • Ruha Benjamin (2016). Innovating inequity: if race is a technology, postracialism is the genius bar, Ethnic and Racial Studies, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1202423 (paper)

  • Sarah Florini (2014). Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: Communication and Cultural Performance on ‘Black Twitter’. Television and New Media 15, no. 3: 223-37. (paper) (pdf)

  • Freelon, D., McIlwain, C. D., & Clark, M. D. (2016). Beyond the hashtags: #Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the online struggle for offline justice. Center for Media & Social Impact. [optional]

Digital Monitoring I (Week 5 - 7)
  • Text Classification 

  • Web crawling 

  • Andre Brock (2012). From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56, no. 4: 529–549. (paper)

  • J. Nathan Matias (2017). Algorithmic Consumer Protection. Medium. 

Digital Monitoring II (Week 8 - 11)
  • Support vector machines

  • Supervised & unsupervised learning

  • Meredith Clark (2015). Black Twitter: Building Connection through Cultural Conversation. In Hashtag Publics: The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks, edited by Nathan Rambukkana, 205-217. New York: Peter Lang. (paper)

Digital Regulation (Week 12 - 15)
  • Search engine evaluation & metrics 

  • James Guszcza, Iyad Rahwan, Will Bible, Manuel Cebrian, Vic Katyal (2018). Why We Need to Audit Algorithms. Harvard Business Review. 

  • EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

  • Artificial Intelligence for the American People (

  • Safiya Noble (2018). Critical Surveillance Literacy in Social Media: Interrogating Black Death and Dying Online. Black Camera.Vol. 9, No. 2 (Spring 2018), pp. 147-160. Indiana University Press. (paper)

  • Meredith Broussard (2018). Artificial unintelligence: How computers misunderstand the world. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [optional]