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p7-anagnostopoulos - Influence and Correlation in Social...

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Unformatted text preview: Influence and Correlation in Social Networks Aris Anagnostopoulos Ravi Kumar Mohammad Mahdian Yahoo! Research 701 First Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94089. {aris,ravikumar,mahdian}@yahoo-inc.com ABSTRACT In many online social systems, social ties between users play an important role in dictating their behavior. One of the ways this can happen is through social influence , the phe- nomenon that the actions of a user can induce his/her friends to behave in a similar way. In systems where social influence exists, ideas, modes of behavior, or new technologies can dif- fuse through the network like an epidemic. Therefore, iden- tifying and understanding social influence is of tremendous interest from both analysis and design points of view. This is a difficult task in general, since there are fac- tors such as homophily or unobserved confounding variables that can induce statistical correlation between the actions of friends in a social network. Distinguishing influence from these is essentially the problem of distinguishing correlation from causality, a notoriously hard statistical problem. In this paper we study this problem systematically. We define fairly general models that replicate the aforemen- tioned sources of social correlation. We then propose two simple tests that can identify influence as a source of social correlation when the time series of user actions is available. We give a theoretical justification of one of the tests by proving that with high probability it succeeds in ruling out influence in a rather general model of social correlation. We also simulate our tests on a number of examples designed by randomly generating actions of nodes on a real social network (from Flickr) according to one of several models. Simulation results confirm that our test performs well on these data. Finally, we apply them to real tagging data on Flickr, exhibiting that while there is significant social cor- relation in tagging behavior on this system, this correlation cannot be attributed to social influence. Categories and Subject Descriptors: J.4 [Computer Applications] :Social and Behavioral Sciences Sociology General Terms: Economics, Human Factors Keywords: Social influence, Social networks, Correlation, Tagging Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. KDD08, August 2427, 2008, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA....
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This note was uploaded on 12/27/2011 for the course CMPSC 290a taught by Professor Vandam during the Fall '09 term at UCSB.

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p7-anagnostopoulos - Influence and Correlation in Social...

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