The casual reader may, perhaps, exempt herself from excessive guilt, but for those of you who have played the larger role in prolonging my agonies with your encouragement and support, well…you know who you are, and you owe me.” It was written by Brendan Pietsch, assistant professor of religious studies at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan.
“After almost 10 years of working on it I couldn’t possibly come up with a full list of all the people who had helped,” he said.
Foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my advisor Prof. D study and research, for his patience, motivation, enthusiasm, and immense knowledge. Last but not the least, I would like to thank my family: my parents Siyu Yang and Xiaolan Ding, for giving birth to me at the first place and supporting me spiritually throughout my life.
His guidance helped me in all the time of research and writing of this thesis.
Thanks are also due to the (NSF) National Science Foundation (under Grants IIS-0952977, IIS-1218168, IIS-0811998, IIS-0811935, and CNS-0708604), University of Minnesota Digital Technology Center, and Microsoft Research for their financial support that I otherwise would not have been able to develop my scientific discoveries.
Last but not least, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my family and friends.On the academic level, Mohamed taught me fundamentals of conducting scientific research in the database systems area.Under his supervision, I learned how to define a research problem, find a solution to it, and finally publish the results.But while I hope the pages reach the intended audience (the Learning Analytics community), I wonder if anyone beyond that will read it. A lot of people, friends, family, and colleagues, were part of the process.Pulling and pushing me along the path that led me here.First, I am indebted to my thesis advisor, Mohamed F. Since my first day in graduate school, Mohamed believed in me like nobody else and gave me endless support.It all started in Fall 2009 when he offered me such a great opportunity to join the data management lab.This dissertation would not have been possible without the intellectual contribution of Justin J. Moreover, I am thankful to James Avery and Ahmed Eldawy for their collaboration and contribution in various projects related to this dissertation.I would also like to thank my other lab mates that include Louai Alarabi, Jie Bao, Chi-Yin Chow, Abdeltawab Hendawi, Mohamed Khalefa, Amr Magdy, and Joe Naps for making my experience in the data management lab and graduate school exciting and fun. I spent two summers at Microsoft Research where I had the chance to collaborate with fantastic researchers.This dissertation would not have been possible without their warm love, continued patience, and endless support. Writing this book has been an exercise in sustained suffering.