Efficient collective influence maximization in cascading processes with first-order transitions.


In many social and biological networks, the collective dynamics of the entire system can be shaped by a small set of influential units through a global cascading process, manifested by an abrupt first-order transition in dynamical behaviors. Despite its importance in applications, efficient identification of multiple influential spreaders in cascading processes still remains a challenging task for large-scale networks. Here we address this issue by exploring the collective influence in general threshold models of cascading process. Our analysis reveals that the importance of spreaders is fixed by the subcritical paths along which cascades propagate: the number of subcritical paths attached to each spreader determines its contribution to global cascades. The concept of subcritical path allows us to introduce a scalable algorithm for massively large-scale networks. Results in both synthetic random graphs and real networks show that the proposed method can achieve larger collective influence given the same number of seeds compared with other scalable heuristic approaches.

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