Higher order monotonicity and submodularity of influence in social networks: from local to global

Wei Chen, Qiang Li, Xiaohan Shan, Xiaoming Sun, Jialin Zhang

Kempe, Kleinberg and Tardos (KKT) proposed the following conjecture about the general threshold model in social networks: local monotonicity and submodularity imply global monotonicity and submodularity. That is, if the threshold function of every node is monotone and submodular, then the spread function $\sigma(S)$ is monotone and submodular, where $S$ is a seed set and the spread function $\sigma(S)$ denotes the expected number of active nodes at termination of a diffusion process starting from $S$. The correctness of this conjecture has been proved by Mossel and Roch. In this paper, we first provide the concept AD-k (Alternating Difference-$k$) as a generalization of monotonicity and submodularity. Specifically, a set function $f$ is called \adk if all the $\ell$-th order differences of $f$ on all inputs have sign $(-1)^{\ell+1}$ for every $\ell\leq k$. Note that AD-1 corresponds to monotonicity and AD-2 corresponds to monotonicity and submodularity. We propose a refined version of KKT's conjecture: in the general threshold model, local AD-k implies global AD-k. The original KKT conjecture corresponds to the case for AD-2, and the case for AD-1 is the trivial one of local monotonicity implying global monotonicity. By utilizing continuous extensions of set functions as well as social graph constructions, we prove the correctness of our conjecture when the social graph is a directed acyclic graph (DAG). Furthermore, we affirm our conjecture on general social graphs when $k=\infty$.

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