Competitive Propagation: Models, Asymptotic Behavior and Multi-stage Games

Wenjun Mei, Francesco Bullo

In this paper we propose a class of propagation models for multiple competing products over a social network. We consider two propagation mechanisms: social conversion and self conversion, corresponding, respectively, to endogenous and exogenous factors. A novel concept, the product-conversion graph, is proposed to characterize the interplay among competing products. According to the chronological order of social and self conversions, we develop two Markov-chain models and, based on the independence approximation, we approximate them with two respective difference equations systems. Theoretical analysis on these two approximation models reveals the dependency of the systems' asymptotic behavior on the structures of both the product-conversion graph and the social network, as well as the initial condition. In addition to the theoretical work, accuracy of the independence approximation and the asymptotic behavior of the Markov-chain model are investigated via numerical analysis, for the case where social conversion occurs before self conversion. Finally, we propose a class of multi-player and multi-stage competitive propagation games and discuss the seeding-quality trade-off, as well as the allocation of seeding resources among the individuals. We investigate the unique Nash equilibrium at each stage and analyze the system's behavior when every player is adopting the policy at the Nash equilibrium.

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