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  1. In group anagram games, players cooperate to form words by sharing letters that they are initially given. The aim is to form as many words as possible as a group, within five minutes. Players take several different actions: requesting letters from their neighbors, replying to letter requests, and forming words. Agent-based models (ABMs) for the game compute likelihoods of each player’s next action, which contain uncertainty, as they are estimated from experimental data. We adopt a Bayesian approach as a natural means of quantifying uncertainty, to enhance the ABM for the group anagram game. Specifically, a Bayesian nonparametric clustering method is used to group player behaviors into different clusters without pre-specifying the number of clusters. Bayesian multi nominal regression is adopted to model the transition probabilities among different actions of the players in the ABM. We describe the methodology and the benefits of it, and perform agent-based simulations of the game.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 11, 2023
  2. There are myriad real-life 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 NP-Complete problem, so we generalize a well-known 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.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 10, 2023
  3. Heterogeneous player behaviors are commonly observed in games. It is important to quantify and visualize these heterogeneities in order to understand collective behaviors. Our work focuses on developing a Bayesian approach for uncertainty visualization in a model of networked anagram games. In these games, team members collectively form as many words as possible by sharing letters with their neighbors in a network. Heterogeneous player behaviors include great differences in numbers of words formed and the amount of cooperation among networked neighbors. Our Bayesian approach provides meaningful insights for inferring worst, average, and best player performance within behavioral clusters, overcoming previous model shortcomings. These inferences are integrated into a simulation framework to understand the implications of model uncertainty and players' heterogeneous behaviors.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 8, 2023
  4. Motivated by a wide range of applications, research on agent-based models of contagion propagation over networks has attracted a lot of attention in the literature. Many of the available software systems for simulating such agent-based 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 enables users to run simulations by selecting models and parameter values, 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 enable 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, a cyberinfrastructure for network science.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 10, 2023
  5. 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 NP-hard. 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 real-world 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 ILP-based approach for obtaining optimal solutions. We also carry out sensitivity studies of our heuristic algorithm.
  6. We study evacuation dynamics in a major urban region (Miami, FL) using a combination of a realistic population and social contact network, and an agent-based model of evacuation behavior that takes into account peer influence and concerns of looting. These factors have been shown to be important in prior work, and have been modeled as a threshold-based network dynamical systems model (2mode-threshold), which involves two threshold parameters|for a family's decision to evacuate and to remain in place for looting and crime concerns|based on the fraction of neighbors who have evacuated. The dynamics of such models are not well understood, and we observe that the threshold parameters have a significant impact on the evacuation dynamics. We also observe counter-intuitive effects of increasing the evacuation threshold on the evacuated fraction in some regimes of the model parameter space, which suggests that the details of realistic networks matter in designing policies.
  7. Data from surveys administered after Hurricane Sandy provide a wealth of information that can be used to develop models of evacuation decision-making. We use a model based on survey data for predicting whether or not a family will evacuate. The model uses 26 features for each household including its neighborhood characteristics. We augment a 1.7 million node household-level synthetic social network of Miami, Florida with public data for the requisite model features so that our population is consistent with the survey-based model. Results show that household features that drive hurricane evacuations dominate the effects of specifying large numbers of families as \early evacuators" in a contagion process, and also dominate effects of peer influence to evacuate. There is a strong network-based evacuation suppression effect from the fear of looting. We also study spatial factors affecting evacuation rates as well as policy interventions to encourage evacuation.
  8. Neighborhood effects have an important role in evacuation decision-making by a family. Owing to peer influence, neighbors evacuating can motivate a family to evacuate. Paradoxically, if a lot of neighbors evacuate, then the likelihood of an individual or family deciding to evacuate decreases, for fear of crime and looting. Such behavior cannot be captured using standard models of contagion spread on networks, e.g., threshold, independent cascade, and linear threshold models. Here, we propose a new threshold-based graph dynamical system model, 2mode-threshold, which captures this dichotomy. We study theoretically the dynamical properties of 2mode-threshold in different networks, and find significant differences from a standard threshold model. We build and characterize small world networks of Virginia Beach, VA, where nodes are geolocated families (households) in the city and edges are interactions between pairs of families. We demonstrate the utility of our behavioral model through agent-based simulations on these small world networks. We use it to understand evacuation rates in this region, and to evaluate the effects of modeling parameters on evacuation decision dynamics. Specifically, we quantify the effects of (1) network generation parameters, (2) stochasticity in the social network generation process, (3) model types (2mode-threshold vs. standard threshold models), (4) 2mode-threshold modelmore »parameters, (5) and initial conditions, on computed evacuation rates and their variability. An illustrative example result shows that the absence of looting effect can overpredict evacuation rates by as much as 50%.« less
  9. The study of epidemics is useful for not only understanding outbreaks and trying to limit their adverse effects, but also because epidemics are related to social phenomena such as government instability, crime, poverty, and inequality. One approach for studying epidemics is to simulate their spread through populations. In this work, we describe an integrated multi-dimensional approach to epidemic simulation, which encompasses: (i) a theoretical framework for simulation and analysis; (ii) synthetic population (digital twin) generation; (iii) (social contact) network construction methods from synthetic populations, (iv) stylized network construction methods; and (v) simulation of the evolution of a virus or disease through a social network. We describe these aspects and end with a short discussion on simulation results that inform public policy.
  10. Web-based 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 influence-based 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 web-based communication among groups of people on Facebook, using nine social (media) networks. We provide theoretical results indicating the intractability in identifying all node-maximal 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 behaviorsmore »in terms of the extent of the spread and the speed of contagion transmission. We also quantify, through the fraction of nodes acquiring contagion, differences in the effects of the ND2 and PD2 mechanisms, which depend on network structure and other simulation inputs.« less