Characterizing Strategic Cascades on Networks

Travis Martin, Grant Schoenebeck, Michael P. Wellman


Transmission of disease, spread of information and rumors, adoption of new products, and many other network phenomena can be fruitfully modeled as cascading processes, where actions chosen by nodes influence the subsequent behavior of neighbors in the network graph. Current literature on cascades tends to assume nodes choose myopically based on the state of choices already taken by other nodes. We examine the possibility of strategic choice, where agents representing nodes anticipate the choices of others who have not yet decided, and take into account their own influence on such choices. Our study employs the framework of Chierichetti et al. [2012], who (under assumption of myopic node behavior) investigate the scheduling of node decisions to promote cascades of product adoptions preferred by the scheduler. We show that when nodes behave strategically, outcomes can be extremely different. We exhibit cases where in the strategic setting 100% of agents adopt, but in the myopic setting only an arbitrarily small epsilon % do. Conversely, we present cases where in the strategic setting 0% of agents adopt, but in the myopic setting (100 - epsilon)% do, for any constant epsilon > 0. Additionally, we prove some miscellaneous properties of cascade processes with strategic agents, both in general and for particular classes of graphs.


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