May 26, 2021

2021 RFP on agent-based user interaction simulation to find and fix integrity and privacy issues

Deadline July 7, 2021
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About

Facebook is developing a cyber-cyber digital twin of its social media platform called WW. WW is a Web Enabled Simulation (WES), in which user communities and their interactions and behaviours are simulated using machine learning, while the real platform infrastructure is both directly executed by the simulation and also is, itself, simulated in various off-line and synthetic versions. Technical details concerning the development and deployment of WW can be found in the GI 2020 keynote paper and the ICSE 2021 SEIP paper.

In this call, we are particularly interested in research work that tackles the scientific and technical challenges we face in developing and deploying Web Enabled Simulation and that could also lead to longer and deeper collaboration between partners from the academic research community and our WW project team. More details, including open research problems and challenges we hope to tackle in partnership with the scientific community, can be found in our keynote position paper at the 25th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE 2021).

We believe research in a number of areas may make valuable contributions to the web enabled simulation agenda, including, but not limited to, research on Multi Agent Systems, Search Based Software Engineering, Social Software Testing Verification and Validation, Predictive Systems, Machine Learning, Multi Objective Search, AI Assisted Game Play, Automated Mechanism Design, Co-evolutionary Mechanism Learning, End User Realism, Synthetic Graph Generation, and Game Theory.

In the past year since the previous research award opportunity, our technical work has focused on three key aspects:

  • Testing, verification, and validation of simulation outcomes
  • Scaling simulation using a hierarchy of simulation modes (online, off-line, and synthetic)
  • Modelling typical and abnormal user and community of behaviours and construction of realistic yet synthetic artificial worlds in which realistic simulations can take place

We have made progress on scalability and social- and simulation- based testing using metamorphic and regression testing, and have published emerging results on these topics.

To foster further innovation in this area, and to deepen our collaboration with academia, Facebook is pleased to invite faculty to respond to this call for research proposals pertaining to the aforementioned topics. We anticipate awarding four to five awards up to $100,000 each. Payment will be made to the proposer’s host university as an unrestricted gift.

Applications are now open

Application Dates

  • Launch Date May 26, 2021
  • Deadline July 7, 2021, 5:00 p.m. AOE
  • Winners Announced September 2021

Areas of Interest

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Testing Validation and Verification

  • Verification and validation: Advanced software testing techniques capable of handling highly nondeterministic high scale simulation systems in which the oracle is unknowable
  • Verification techniques able to confirm, or refute with counterexamples, infrastructural simulation faithfulness to real infrastructure at scale in the presence of non-determinism from both infrastructure and real use of behaviour
  • Simulation-specific approaches to validation of user and community behaviours

2. Scalability: Cyber-Cyber Digital Twin Scalability, Prediction, and Optimisation

  • Techniques for balancing the trade-off between cyber-cyber digital twin speed and fidelity
  • Techniques for predicting user and community behaviours in the presence of counterfactuals
  • Techniques for optimising the performance of cyber-cyber digital twins

3. Behaviour: Modeling User Behaviours and Counter-Factual Interventions

  • Techniques for modelling and predicting typical user and community behaviours in (possibly counter-factual perturbations of) complex multi-agent emergent systems
  • Techniques for simulating large numbers of counterfactual interventions and their influence on using community behaviours

Requirements

Proposals should include

  • A summary of the project (1-2 pages), in English, explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes
  • A draft budget description (1 page) including an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent
  • Curriculum Vitae for all project participants
  • Organization details; this will include tax information and administrative contact details

Eligibility

  • Proposals must comply with applicable U.S. and international laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Applicants must be current full-time faculty at an accredited academic institution that awards research degrees to PhD students.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Facebook cannot consider proposals submitted, prepared or to be carried out by individuals residing in, or affiliated with an academic institution located in, a country or territory subject to comprehensive U.S. trade sanctions.
  • Government officials (excluding faculty and staff of public universities, to the extent they may be considered government officials), political figures, and politically affiliated businesses (all as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion) are not eligible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most of the RFP awards are an unrestricted gift. Because of its nature, salary/headcount could be included as part of the budget presented for the RFP. Since the award/gift is paid to the university, they will be able to allocate the funds to that winning project and have the freedom to use as they need. All Facebook teams are different and have different expectations concerning deliverables, timing, etc. Long story short – yes, money for salary/headcount can be included. It’s up to the reviewing team to determine if the percentage spend is reasonable and how that relates to the decision if the project is a winner or not.

We are flexible, but ideally proposals submitted are single-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt font.

Research awards are given year-round and funding years/duration can vary by proposal.

Yes, award funds can be used to cover a researcher’s salary.

Budgets can vary by institution and geography, but overall research funds ideally cover the following: graduate or post-graduate students’ employment/tuition; other research costs (e.g., equipment, laptops, incidental costs); travel associated with the research (conferences, workshops, summits, etc.); overhead for research gifts is limited to 5%

One person will need to be the primary PI (i.e., the submitter that will receive all email notifications); however, you’ll be given the opportunity to list collaborators/co-PIs in the submission form. Please note in your budget breakdown how the funds should be dispersed amongst PIs.

Terms & Conditions

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to Facebook RFP solicitations, including whether or not to grant an award and the interpretation of Facebook RFP Terms and Conditions. By submitting a proposal, applicants affirm that they have read and agree to these Terms and Conditions.

  • Facebook is authorized to evaluate proposals submitted under its RFPs, to consult with outside experts, as needed, in evaluating proposals, and to grant or deny awards using criteria determined by Facebook to be appropriate and at Facebook’s sole discretion. Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to its RFPs, and applicants agree not to challenge any such decisions.
  • Facebook will not be required to treat any part of a proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce and distribute all or a portion of the proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the Facebook RFP website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • Personal data submitted with a proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of the applicant and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook for the purposes of administering Facebook’s RFP website, evaluating the contents of the proposal, and as otherwise provided under Facebook’s Privacy Policy.
  • Neither Facebook nor the applicant is obligated to enter into a business transaction as a result of the proposal submission. Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal.
  • Feedback provided in a proposal regarding Facebook products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to the applicant. The submission of a proposal will not result in the transfer of ownership of any IP rights.
  • Applicants represent and warrant that they have authority to submit a proposal in connection with a Facebook RFP and to grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization. All awards provided by Facebook in connection with this RFP shall be used only in accordance with applicable laws and shall not be used in any way, directly or indirectly, to facilitate any act that would constitute bribery or an illegal kickback, an illegal campaign contribution, or would otherwise violate any applicable anti-corruption or political activities law.
  • Awards granted in connection with RFP proposals will be subject to terms and conditions contained in the unrestricted gift agreement (or, in some cases, other mechanisms) pursuant to which the award funding will be provided. Applicants understand and acknowledge that they will need to agree to these terms and conditions to receive an award.