***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org *****
I've read the paper in question (and the news article about it). As some sort of computer scientist myself their algorithm and their analysis of it seems sound to me, and their experimental results look pretty good. 

I don't know what the "fundamental problem of viral marketing" is (if there is one). And of course there are other models than the (notably, deterministic - all the thresholds are specified) tipping model in this paper. There was a talk (Wu et al "Maximizing the Performance of Advertisements Diffusion: A Simulation Study of the Dynamics of Viral Advertising in Social Networks") at INSNA in Xi'an on this topic for instance, using a non-deterministic model (following from the work of Kempe et al., cited in the "notes on non-deterministic tipping" section of the paper). 

If the question is about how realistic such models are, or how applicable, it seems to me the non-deterministic models and the somewhat different problem the INSNA talk and the other work in the area following Kempe et al. address seems more realistic. In such models the thresholds are random variables (reflecting our lack of knowledge of them), and rather than finding a set of nodes that will infect the entire network, the problem is to find a a set of nodes of a specified size that maximizes the expected number of infected nodes. Seems to me a marketer would care more about maximizing this number of infected nodes given a fixed budget (the number of initial nodes to give a free sample to or whatever), than really wanting to get their message to absolutely everybody in the network.

We should bear in mind that the news article and its headline was not written by the authors of the paper  - their paper completely lives up to their more modest title "A Scalable Heuristic for Viral Marketing Under the Tipping Model". The news article slightly misinterprets their algorithm, but does correctly describe its essence as Bryan describes it below.

Obviously a news headline "Military Scientists Solve the Fundamental Problem of Viral Marketing" is somewhat more eye-catching than the more accurate "Military Scientists Find Efficient Heuristic to Solve Problem of Finding Non-Trivial But Not Necessarily Minimal Seed Set Size To Infect Entire Network Under the Deterministic Tipping Model in Viral Marketing".

Regards,
Alex.

(Postdoc, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Australia.)




From: "Lee, Bryan Leslie" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, 20 September 2013 3:30 AM
Subject: Re: [SOCNET] Fwd: viral marketing

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org *****

I'm curious as well.  I'm not a computer scientist and can't comment on the algorithm, but the end result doesn't strike me as living up to the headline.  As I read it, it presents a method of finding a seed group which is large enough to infect the entire network (assuming a certain threshold infection level) which works on the massive scale of actual online social networks.  This is exciting, but I don't think it solves the "fundamental problem," which I still see as proving the threshold infection model accurately depicts actual human behavior.

I'm eager to hear what the experts on this list have to say.  I'm a neophyte and came here to learn.

-Bryan

Bryan L. Lee
Director, Eurasia Nonproliferation Program
James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute of International Studies
460 Pierce Street
Monterey, CA 93940
T: (831) 647-3509 | F: (831) 647-3519
nonproliferation.org


-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Simone Gabbriellini
Sent: Thursday, September 19, 2013 1:46 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SOCNET] Fwd: viral marketing

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org *****

Hello everybody,

I have just stumbled upon this paper: "A Scalable Heuristic for Viral Marketing Under the Tipping Model" by Paulo Shakarian, Sean Eyre and Damon Paulo.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1309.2963

I am just curious to see if someone has any comment on how to interpret the (journalistic) claim "Military Scientists Solve the Fundamental Problem of Viral Marketing"?

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/519361/us-military-scientists-solve-the-fundamental-problem-of-viral-marketing/

All the best,
Simone

--
Simone Gabbriellini, PhD

PostDoc@DISI, University of Bologna
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