The editors of Network Science are pleased to announce that Engineering Social Contagions: Optimal Network Seeding in the Presence of Homophily has been chosen as the best paper published in the journal's first four volumes. This is the inaugural Best Paper award from Network Science, and was announced during the banquet at the NetSci 2017 conference. The award is sponsored by the Indiana University Network Science Institute, and the winners have been invited to give a public lecture at the Institute.
Below is the abstract to the winning paper from Sinan Aral, Lev Muchnik, and Arun Sundararajan. It was originally published in Volume 1, Issue 2, in August of 2013.
We use data on a real, large-scale social network of 27 million individuals interacting daily, together with the day-by-day adoption of a new mobile service product, to inform, build, and analyze data-driven simulations of the effectiveness of seeding (network targeting) strategies under different social conditions. Three main results emerge from our simulations. First, failure to consider homophily creates significant overestimation of the effectiveness of seeding strategies, casting doubt on conclusions drawn by simulation studies that do not model homophily. Second, seeding is constrained by the small fraction of potential influencers that exist in the network. We find that seeding more than 0.2% of the population is wasteful because the gain from their adoption is lower than the gain from their natural adoption (without seeding). Third, seeding is more effective in the presence of greater social influence. Stronger peer influence creates a greater than additive effect when combined with seeding. Our findings call into question some conventional wisdom about these strategies and suggest that their overall effectiveness may be overestimated.
Engineering Social Contagions: Optimal Network Seeding in the Presence of Homophily, by Sinan Aral, Lev Muchnik, and Arun Sundararajan, is free to access until 31st December, 2017.
The Best Paper award will be chosen by the Network Science editorial board every two years.