Activating the 'Breakfast Club': Modeling Influence Spread in Natural-World Social Networks


Lily Hu, Bryan Wilder, Amulya Yadav, Eric Rice, and Milind Tambe. 2018. “Activating the 'Breakfast Club': Modeling Influence Spread in Natural-World Social Networks.” In International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS-18).


While reigning models of diffusion have privileged the structure of a given social network as the key to informational exchange, real human interactions do not appear to take place on a single graph of connections. Using data collected from a pilot study of the spread of HIV awareness in social networks of homeless youth, we show that health information did not diffuse in the field according to the processes outlined by dominant models. Since physical network diffusion scenarios often diverge from their more well-studied counterparts on digital networks, we propose an alternative Activation Jump Model (AJM) that describes information diffusion on physical networks from a multi-agent team perspective. Our model exhibits two main differentiating features from leading cascade and threshold models of influence spread: 1) The structural composition of a seed set team impacts each individual node’s influencing behavior, and 2) an influencing node may spread information to non-neighbors. We show that the AJM significantly outperforms existing models in its fit to the observed node-level influence data on the youth networks. We then prove theoretical results, showing that the AJM exhibits many well-behaved properties shared by dominant models. Our results suggest that the AJM presents a flexible and more accurate model of network diffusion that may better inform influence maximization in the field.
Last updated on 07/23/2021