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Influencer identification in dynamical complex systems.

Abstract

The integrity and functionality of many real-world complex systems hinge on a small set of pivotal nodes, or influencers. In different contexts, these influencers are defined as either structurally important nodes that maintain the connectivity of networks, or dynamically crucial units that can disproportionately impact certain dynamical processes. In practice, identification of the optimal set of influencers in a given system has profound implications in a variety of disciplines. In this review, we survey recent advances in the study of influencer identification developed from different perspectives, and present state-of-the-art solutions designed for different objectives. In particular, we first discuss the problem of finding the minimal number of nodes whose removal would breakdown the network (i.e. the optimal percolation or network dismantle problem), and then survey methods to locate the essential nodes that are capable of shaping global dynamics with either continuous (e.g. independent cascading models) or discontinuous phase transitions (e.g. threshold models). We conclude the review with a summary and an outlook.

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