Learning Influence Probabilities in Social Networks

author: Amit Goyal, Department of Computer Science, University of British Columbia
published: April 12, 2010,   recorded: February 2010,   views: 5265


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Recently, there has been tremendous interest in the phenomenon of influence propagation in social networks. The studies in this area assume they have as input to their problems a social graph with edges labeled with probabilities of influence between users. However, the question of where these probabilities come from or how they can be computed from real social network data has been largely ignored until now. Thus it is interesting to ask whether from a social graph and a log of actions by its users, one can build models of influence. This is the main problem attacked in this paper. In addition to proposing models and algorithms for learning the model parameters and for testing the learned models to make predictions, we also develop techniques for predicting the time by which a user may be expected to perform an action. We validate our ideas and techniques using the Flickr data set consisting of a social graph with 1.3M nodes, 40M edges, and an action log consisting of 35M tuples referring to 300K distinct actions. Beyond showing that there is genuine influence happening in a real social network, we show that our techniques have excellent prediction performance.

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