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Winner takes all: competing viruses or ideas on fair-play networks

Abstract

Given two competing products (or memes, or viruses etc.) spreading over a given network, can we predict what will happen at the end, that is, which product will 'win', in terms of highest market share? One may naively expect that the better product (stronger virus) will just have a larger footprint, proportional to the quality ratio of the products (or strength ratio of the viruses). However, we prove the surprising result that, under realistic conditions, for any graph topology, the stronger virus completely wipes-out the weaker one, thus not merely 'winning' but 'taking it all'. In addition to the proofs, we also demonstrate our result with simulations over diverse, real graph topologies, including the social-contact graph of the city of Portland OR (about 31 million edges and 1 million nodes) and internet AS router graphs. Finally, we also provide real data about competing products from Google-Insights, like Facebook-Myspace, and we show again that they agree with our analysis.

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