Systematic comparison between methods for the detection of influential spreaders in complex networks

Complexity Digest

Influence maximization is the problem of finding the set of nodes of a network that maximizes the size of the outbreak of a spreading process occurring on the network. Solutions to this problem are important for strategic decisions in marketing and political campaigns. The typical setting consists in the identification of small sets of initial spreaders in very large networks. This setting makes the optimization problem computationally infeasible for standard greedy optimization algorithms that account simultaneously for information about network topology and spreading dynamics, leaving space only to heuristic methods based on the drastic approximation of relying on the geometry of the network alone. The literature on the subject is plenty of purely topological methods for the identification of influential spreaders in networks. However, it is unclear how far these methods are from being optimal. Here, we perform a systematic test of the performance of a multitude of heuristic methods…

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