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Abstract We consider the simultaneous propagation of two contagions over a social network. We assume a threshold model for the propagation of the two contagions and use the formal framework of discrete dynamical systems. In particular, we study an optimization problem where the goal is to minimize the total number of new infections subject to a budget constraint on the total number of available vaccinations for the contagions. While this problem has been considered in the literature for a single contagion, our work considers the simultaneous propagation of two contagions. This optimization problem is NPhard. We present two main solution approaches for the problem, namely an integer linear programming (ILP) formulation to obtain optimal solutions and a heuristic based on a generalization of the set cover problem. We carry out a comprehensive experimental evaluation of our solution approaches using many realworld networks. The experimental results show that our heuristic algorithm produces solutions that are close to the optimal solution and runs several orders of magnitude faster than the ILPbased approach for obtaining optimal solutions. We also carry out sensitivity studies of our heuristic algorithm.more » « less

We consider the simultaneous propagation of two contagions over a social network. We assume a threshold model for the propagation of the two contagions and use the formal framework of discrete dynamical systems. In particular, we study an optimization problem where the goal is to minimize the total number of new infections subject to a budget constraint on the total number of available vaccinations for the contagions. While this problem has been considered in the literature for a single contagion, our work considers the simultaneous propagation of two contagions. This optimization problem is NPhard. We present two main solution approaches for the problem, namely an integer linear programming (ILP) formulation to obtain optimal solutions and a heuristic based on a generalization of the set cover problem. We carry out a comprehensive experimental evaluation of our solution approaches using many realworld networks. The experimental results show that our heuristic algorithm produces solutions that are close to the optimal solution and runs several orders of magnitude faster than the ILPbased approach for obtaining optimal solutions. We also carry out sensitivity studies of our heuristic algorithm.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

The ongoing COVID19 pandemic underscores the importance of developing reliable forecasts that would allow decision makers to devise appropriate response strategies. Despite much recent research on the topic, epidemic forecasting remains poorly understood. Researchers have attributed the difficulty of forecasting contagion dynamics to a multitude of factors, including complex behavioral responses, uncertainty in data, the stochastic nature of the underlying process, and the high sensitivity of the disease parameters to changes in the environment. We offer a rigorous explanation of the difficulty of shortterm forecasting on networked populations using ideas from computational complexity. Specifically, we show that several forecasting problems (e.g., the probability that at least a given number of people will get infected at a given time and the probability that the number of infections will reach a peak at a given time) are computationally intractable. For instance, efficient solvability of such problems would imply that the number of satisfying assignments of an arbitrary Boolean formula in conjunctive normal form can be computed efficiently, violating a widely believed hypothesis in computational complexity. This intractability result holds even under the ideal situation, where all the disease parameters are known and are assumed to be insensitive to changes in the environment. From a computational complexity viewpoint, our results, which show that contagion dynamics become unpredictable for both macroscopic and individual properties, bring out some fundamental difficulties of predicting disease parameters. On the positive side, we develop efficient algorithms or approximation algorithms for restricted versions of forecasting problems.more » « less

Using a discrete dynamical system model for a networked social system, we consider the problem of learning a class of local interaction functions in such networks. Our focus is on learning local functions which are based on pairwise disjoint coalitions formed from the neighborhood of each node. Our work considers both active query and PAC learning models. We establish bounds on the number of queries needed to learn the local functions under both models.We also establish a complexity result regarding efficient consistent learners for such functions. Our experimental results on synthetic and real social networks demonstrate how the number of queries depends on the structure of the underlying network and number of coalitions.more » « less

null (Ed.)We consider the simultaneous propagation of two contagions over a social network. We assume a threshold model for the propagation of the two contagions and use the formal framework of discrete dynamical systems. In particular, we study an optimization problem where the goal is to minimize the total number of infected nodes subject to a budget constraint on the total number of nodes that can be vaccinated. While this problem has been considered in the literature for a single contagion, our work considers the simultaneous propagation of two contagions. Since the optimization problem is NPhard, we develop a heuristic based on a generalization of the set cover problem. Using experiments on three realworld networks, we compare the performance of the heuristic with some baseline methods.more » « less