Influence Maximization With Co-Existing Seeds.

Ruben Becker, Gianlorenzo D'Angelo, Hugo Gilbert
CIKM 2021

Abstract : One key problem in network analysis is the so-called influence maximization problem, which consists in finding a set S of at most k seed users, in a social network, maximizing the spread of information from S. This paper studies a related but slightly different problem: We want to find a set S of at most k seed users that maximizes the spread of information, when S is added to an already pre-existing – but unknown – set of seed users T . We consider such scenario to be very realistic. Assume a central entity wants to spread a piece of news, while having a budget to influence k users. This central authority may know that some users are already aware of the information and are going to spread it anyhow. The identity of these users being however completely unknown. We model this optimization problem using the Group Shapley value, a well-founded concept from cooperative game theory. While the standard influence maximization problem is easy to approximate within a factor 1 − 1/e − \eps for any \eps > 0, assuming common computational complexity conjectures, we obtain strong hardness of approximation results for the problem at hand in this paper. Maybe most prominently, we show that it cannot be approximated within 1/n^{o(1)} under the Gap Exponential Time Hypothesis. Hence, it is unlikely to achieve anything better than a polynomial factor approximation. Nevertheless, we show that a greedy algorithm can achieve a factor of (1−1/e)/k − \eps for any \eps > 0, showing that not all is lost in settings where k is bounded.