Optimal Investment Strategies for Competing Camps in a Social Network: A Broad Framework

Swapnil Dhamal, Walid Ben-Ameur, Tijani Chahed, Eitan Altman

We study the problem of optimally investing in nodes of a social network in a competitive setting, wherein two camps aim to drive the average opinion of the population in their own favor. Using a well-established model of opinion dynamics, we formulate the problem as a zero-sum game with its players being the two camps. We derive optimal investment strategies for both camps, and show that a random investment strategy is optimal when the underlying network follows a popular class of weight distributions. We study a broad framework, where we consider various well-motivated settings of the problem, namely, when the influence of a camp on a node is a concave function of its investment on that node, when a camp aims at maximizing competitor's investment or deviation from its desired investment, and when one of the camps has uncertain information about the values of the model parameters. We also study a Stackelberg variant of this game under common coupled constraints on the combined investments by the camps and derive their equilibrium strategies, and hence quantify the first-mover advantage. For a quantitative and illustrative study, we conduct simulations on real-world datasets and provide results and insights.

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