Diffusion in Networks and the Virtue of Burstiness

32 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2016 Last revised: 10 Jul 2018

See all articles by Mohammad Akbarpour

Mohammad Akbarpour

Stanford University

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute

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

Akbarpour, Mohammad and Jackson, Matthew O., Diffusion in Networks and the Virtue of Burstiness (April 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2831203 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2831203

Mohammad Akbarpour

Stanford University ( email )

Matthew O. Jackson (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~jacksonm

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