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Dynamic competition over social networks

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Antoine Mandel, Xavier Venel
European Journal of Operational Research
We propose an analytical approach to the problem of influence maximization in a social network where two players compete by means of dynamic targeting strategies. We formulate the problem as a two-player zero-sum stochastic game. We prove the existence of the uniform value: if the players are sufficiently patient, both can guarantee the same mean-average opinion without knowing the exact length of the game. Furthermore, we put forward some elements for the characterization of equilibrium strategies. In general, players must implement a trade-off between a forward-looking perspective, according to which they aim to maximize the future spread of their opinion in the network, and a backward-looking perspective, according to which they aim to counteract their opponent’s previous actions. When the influence potential of players is small, we describe an equilibrium through a one-shot game based on eigenvector centrality.
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