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Message Archive

Friday, October 6, 2017


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From: Prof. Rongning Wu, Paul H. Chook Department of Information Systems and Statistics

Title: How Predictable is the Spread of Information?
Presenter: Jake Hofman, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research in New York City

Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 @ 12:30pm-1:45pm
Location: NVC 11-217, ISS Conference Room

Abstract: How does information spread in online social networks, and how predictable are online information diffusion events? Despite a great deal of existing research on modeling information diffusion and predicting "success" of content in social systems, these questions have remained largely unanswered for a variety of reasons, ranging from the inability to observe most word-of-mouth communication to difficulties in precisely and consistently formalizing different notions of success. This talk will attempt to shed light on these questions through an empirical analysis of billions of diffusion events under one simple but unified framework. We will show that even though information diffusion patterns exhibit stable regularities in the aggregate, it remains surprisingly difficult to predict the success of any particular individual or single piece of content in an online social network, with our best performing models explaining only half of the empirical variance in outcomes. We conclude by exploring this limit theoretically through a series of simulations that suggest that it is the diffusion process itself, rather than our ability to estimate or model it, that is responsible for this unpredictability.

Rongning Wu

Paul H. Chook Department of Information Systems and Statistics