Studying Human Behavior through Digital Traces: Polarization and Emotions in the Bitcoin Ecosystem

17 Sep

Dr. David García Becerra, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

External Presentation (External Speaker)

The availability of data on digital traces is growing to unprecedented sizes, but inferring actionable knowledge from large-scale data is far from being trivial. This is especially important for computational finance, where digital traces of human behavior offer a great potential to drive trading strategies. We contribute to this by providing a consistent approach that integrates various data sources in the design of algorithmic traders. This allows us to derive insights into the principles behind the profitability of our trading strategies. We illustrate our approach through the analysis of Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency known for its large price fluctuations. In our analysis, we include economic signals of volume and price of exchange for USD, adoption of the Bitcoin technology, and transaction volume of Bitcoin. We add social signals related to information search, word of mouth volume, emotional valence, and opinion polarization as expressed in tweets related to Bitcoin for more than 3 years. Our analysis reveals that increases in opinion polarization and exchange volume precede rising Bitcoin prices, and that emotional valence precedes opinion polarization and rising exchange volumes. We apply these insights to design algorithmic trading strategies for Bitcoin, reaching very high profits in less than a year. We verify this high profitability with robust statistical methods that take into account risk and trading costs, confirming the long-standing hypothesis that trading based social media sentiment has the potential to yield positive returns on investment.

About David García

David García obtained his BSc in Computer Engineering from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in 2007, followed by an MSc in Computer Science from ETH Zurich. He finished with a PhD (2012) from the same university, working at the Chair of Systems Design. David continued working at ETH Zurich, first as a Postdoc Researcher (2012-2014) and currently as a Senior Researcher, working on the Swiss SNF project “The Role of Emotional Interactions in the Polarization of Opinions in Participatory Media”

Personal website

This event will be conducted in English


  • Location: Sala 4.1.E04, Edificio Torres Quevedo, UC3M, Avda. Universidad, 30, 28911 Leganes - Madrid

  • Organization: NETCOM Research Group (Telematics Engineering Department, UC3M); IMDEA Networks Institute
  • Time: 11:00 am
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