Diffusion in Networks and the Virtue of Burstiness
32 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2016 Last revised: 10 Jul 2018
Date Written: April 1, 2018
Whether an idea, information, or infection, diffuses throughout a society depends not only on the structure of the network of interactions, but also on the timing of those interactions. People are not always available to interact with others, and people differ in the timing of when they are active. Some people are active for long periods and then inactive for long periods, while others switch more frequently from being active to inactive and back. We show that maximizing diffusion requires heterogeneous activity patterns across agents. In particular, maximizing diffusion comes from mixing two extreme types of people: those who are stationary for long periods of time, only changing from active to inactive or back infrequently, with others who alternate frequently between being active and inactive.
Keywords: Diffusion, Contagion, Networks, Social Networks, Dynamic Networks, Heterogeneous Agents, Markov
JEL Classification: D85, C72, L14, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation