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Free, publiclyaccessible full text available August 4, 2024

Abstract—There are myriad reallife examples of contagion processes on human social networks, e.g., spread of viruses, information, and social unrest. Also, there are many methods to control or block contagion spread. In this work, we introduce a novel method of blocking contagions that uses nodes from dominating sets (DSs). To our knowledge, this is the first use of DS nodes to block contagions. Finding minimum dominating sets of graphs is an NPComplete problem, so we generalize a wellknown heuristic, enabling us to customize its execution. Our method produces a prioritized list of dominating nodes, which is, in turn, a prioritized list of blocking nodes. Thus, for a given network, we compute this list of blocking nodes and we use it to block contagions for all blocking node budgets, contagion seed sets, and parameter values of the contagion model. We report on computational experiments of the blocking efficacy of our approach using two mined networks. We also demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach by comparing blocking results with those from the high degree heuristic, which is a common standard in blocking studies. Index Terms—contagion blocking, dominating sets, threshold models, social networks, simulation, high degree heuristicmore » « less

Motivated by a wide range of applications, research on agentbased models of contagion propagation over networks has attracted a lot of attention in the literature. Many of the available software systems for simulating such agentbased models require users to download software, build the executable and set up execution environments. Further, running the resulting executable may require access to high performance computing clusters. Our work describes an open access software system (NetSimS) that works under the “Modeling and Simulation as a Service” (MSaaS) paradigm. It allows users to run simulations by selecting agentbased models and parameters, initial conditions, and networks through a web interface. The system supports a variety of models and networks with millions of nodes and edges. In addition to the simulator, the system includes components that allow users to choose initial conditions for simulations in a variety of ways, to analyze the data generated through simulations, and to produce plots from the data. We describe the components of NetSimS and carry out a performance evaluation of the system. We also discuss two case studies carried out on large networks using the system. NetSimS is a major component within net.science, a cyberinfrastructure for network science. Index Terms—AgentBased Simulation, Contagion, Networks, Modeling and Simulation as a Service, Cyberinfrastructuremore » « less

Developing techniques to infer the behavior of networked social systems has attracted a lot of attention in the literature. Using a discrete dynamical system to model a networked social system, the problem of inferring the behavior of the system can be formulated as the problem of learning the local functions of the dynamical system. We investigate the problem assuming an active form of interaction with the system through queries. We consider two classes of local functions (namely, symmetric and threshold functions) and two interaction modes, namely batch (where all the queries must be submitted together) and adaptive (where the set of queries submitted at a stage may rely on the answers to previous queries). We establish bounds on the number of queries under both batch and adaptive query modes using vertex coloring and probabilistic methods. Our results show that a small number of appropriately chosen queries are provably sufficient to correctly learn all the local functions. We develop complexity results which suggest that, in general, the problem of generating query sets of minimum size is computationally intractable. We present efficient heuristics that produce query sets under both batch and adaptive query modes. Also, we present a query compaction algorithm that identifies and removes redundant queries from a given query set. Our algorithms were evaluated through experiments on over 20 wellknown networks.more » « less

Networked discrete dynamical systems are often used to model the spread of contagions and decisionmaking by agents in coordination games. Fixed points of such dynamical systems represent configurations to which the system converges. In the dissemination of undesirable contagions (such as rumors and misinformation), convergence to fixed points with a small number of affected nodes is a desirable goal. Motivated by such considerations, we formulate a novel optimization problem of finding a nontrivial fixed point of the system with the minimum number of affected nodes. We establish that, unless P = NP, there is no polynomialtime algorithm for approximating a solution to this problem to within the factor n^(1  epsilon) for any constant epsilon > 0. To cope with this computational intractability, we identify several special cases for which the problem can be solved efficiently. Further, we introduce an integer linear program to address the problem for networks of reasonable sizes. For solving the problem on larger networks, we propose a general heuristic framework along with greedy selection methods. Extensive experimental results on realworld networks demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed heuristics. A full version of the manuscript, source code and data areavailable at: https://github.com/bridgelessqiu/NMINFPEmore » « less

null (Ed.)Discrete dynamical systems serve as useful formal models to study diffusion phenomena in social networks. Motivated by applications in systems biology, several recent papers have studied algorithmic and complexity aspects of diffusion problems for dynamical systems whose underlying graphs are directed, and may contain directed cycles. Such problems can be regarded as reachability problems in the phase space of the corresponding dynamical system. We show that computational intractability results for reachability problems hold even for dynamical systems on directed acyclic graphs (dags). We also show that for dynamical systems on dags where each local function is monotone, the reachability problem can be solved efficiently.more » « less

null (Ed.)Webbased interactions allow agents to coordinate and to take actions (change state) jointly, i.e., to participate in collective action such as a protest, facilitating spread of contagion to large groups within networked populations. In game theoretic contexts, coordination requires that agents share common knowledge about each other. Common knowledge emerges within a group when each member knows the states and the types (preferences) of the other members, and critically, each member knows that everyone else has this information. Hence, these models of common knowledge and coordination on communication networks are fundamentally different from influencebased unilateral contagion models, such as those devised by Granovetter and Centola. Common knowledge arises in many settings in practice, yet there are few operational models that can be used to compute contagion dynamics. Moreover, these models utilize different mechanisms for driving contagion. We evaluate the three mechanisms of a common knowledge model that can represent webbased communication among groups of people on Facebook. We evaluate these mechanisms on five social (media) networks with wideranging properties. We demonstrate that different mechanisms can produce widely varying behaviors in terms of the extent of contagion spreading and the speed of contagion transmission.more » « less

Harris, F. ; Wu, R. ; Redei, A. (Ed.)Networks are pervasive in society: infrastructures (e.g., telephone), commercial sectors (e.g., banking), and biological and genomic systems can be represented as networks. Con sequently, there are software libraries that analyze networks. Containers (e.g., Docker, Singularity), which hold both runnable codes and their execution environments, are in creasingly utilized by analysts to run codes in a platformindependent fashion. Portability is further enhanced by not only providing software library methods, but also the driver code (i.e., main() method) for each library method. In this way, a user only has to know the invocation for the main() method that is in the container. In this work, we describe an automated approach for generating a main() method for each software library method. A single intermediate representation (IR) format is used for all library methods, and one IR instance is populated for one library method by parsing its comments and method signature. An IR for the main() method is generated from that for the library method. A source code generator uses the main() method IR and a set of small, handgenerated source code templateswith variables in the templates that are automatically customized for a particular library methodto produce the source code main() method. We apply our approach to two widely used software libraries, SNAP and NetworkX, as examplars, which combined have over 400 library methods.more » « less

null (Ed.)Webbased interactions enable agents to coordinate and generate collective action. Coordination can facilitate the spread of contagion to large groups within networked populations. In game theoretic contexts, coordination requires that agents share common knowledge about each other. Common knowledge emerges within a group when each member knows the states and the thresholds (preferences) of the other members, and critically, each member knows that everyone else has this information. Hence, these models of common knowledge and coordination on communication networks are fundamentally different from influencebased unilateral contagion models, such as those devised by Granovetter and Centola. Moreover, these models utilize different mechanisms for driving contagion. We evaluate three mechanisms of a common knowledge model that can represent webbased communication among groups of people on Facebook, using nine social (media) networks. We provide theoretical results indicating the intractability in identifying all nodemaximal bicliques in a network, which is the characterizing network structure that produces common knowledge. Bicliques are required for model execution. We also show that one of the mechanisms (named PD2) dominates another mechanism (named ND2). Using simulations, we compute the spread of contagion on these networks in the Facebook model and demonstrate that different mechanisms can produce widely varying behaviors in terms of the extent of the spread and the speed of contagion transmission. We also quantify, through the fraction of nodes acquiring contagion, dierences in the effects of the ND2 and PD2 mechanisms, which depend on network structure and other simulation inputs.more » « less

null (Ed.)Many contagion processes evolving on populations do so simultaneously, interacting over time. Examples are coevolution of human social processes and diseases, such as the uptake of mask wearing and disease spreading. Commensurately, multicontagion agentbased simulations (ABSs) that represent populations as networks in order to capture interactions between pairs of nodes are becoming more popular. In this work, we present a new ABS system that simulates any number of contagions coevolving on any number of networked populations. Individual (interacting) contagion models and individual networks are specied, and the system computes multicontagion dynamics over time. This is a signicant improvement over simulation frameworks that require union graphs to handle multiple networks, and/or additional code to orchestrate the computations of multiple contagions. We provide a formal model for the simulation system, an overview of the software, and case studies that illustrate applications of interacting contagions.more » « less