Optimization Problems in Social Networks


David Kempe
Thursday, October 14, 2010
4:15 PM – 5:30 PM
Rose Hill Theater
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Pomona colloquium information

Note: This week’s colloquium is at Pomona.

A social network - the graph of relationships and interactions within a group of individuals - plays a fundamental role as a medium for the spread of information, ideas, influence, or diseases among its members. An idea or innovation will appear, and it can either die out quickly or make significant inroads into the population. Similarly, an infectious disease may either affect a large share of the population, or be confined to a small fraction.

The collective behavior of individuals and the spread of diseases in a social network have a long history of study in sociology and epidemiology. In this talk, we will investigate graph-theoretic optimization problems relating to the spread of information or diseases. Specifically, we will focus on two types of questions: influence maximization, wherein we seek to identify influential individuals to start a cascade of an innovation to maximize the expected number of eventual adopters; and infection minimization, wherein we seek to remove nodes so as to keep the expected number of infected individuals small.

We will present constant factor and bicriteria algorithms for versions of these problems, and also touch on many open problems and issues regarding competition among multiple innovators.

(This talk represents joint work with Jon Kleinberg, Eva Tardos, Shishir Bharathi, Po-An Chen, Mary David, and Mahyar Salek.)