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Location determines social network influence, CCNY-led team finds
Date:8/29/2010

A team of researchers led by Dr. Hernn Makse, professor of physics at The City College of New York (CCNY), has shed new light on the way that information and infectious diseases proliferate across complex networks. Writing in Nature Physics, they report that, contrary to conventional wisdom, persons with the most connections are not necessarily the best spreaders.

"The important thing is where someone is located in a network," said Professor Makse in an interview. "If someone is in the core, they can spread information more efficiently. The challenge is finding the core."

That kind of information could help marketers and public relations practitioners conduct more effective of social media and social marketing campaigns. It could also help epidemiologists target resources to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

To identify the core, Professor Makse and colleagues used a technique call k-shell decomposition. In this process, network nodes with just one link are removed until no single-link nodes remain. The remaining nodes are assigned a k-shell value of one. The process is repeated with higher k-shell values assigned to remaining nodes after each round of cuts. Those nodes that cannot be reduced to a single link are identified as the core of the network and have the highest k-shell values.

In the study, the researchers examined four networks representing archetypical examples of social structures: members of LiveJournal.com; email contacts in the computer science department at University College London; inpatients of Swedish hospitals, and adult film actors. The latter group was studied because it is a distinct subgroup of the acting profession whose members rarely appear in other genres, Professor Makse explained.

Each network member's position in that network was plotted on a graph with the number of connections along one axis and the k-shell value along the other, e.g. (100, 5), (50, 25). The
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Contact: Ellis Simon
esimon@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-6460
City College of New York
Source:Eurekalert

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