Identifying the optimal set of individuals to first receive information (‘seeds’) in a social network is a widely-studied question in many settings, such as the diffusion of information, microfinance programs, and new technologies. Numerous studies have proposed various network-centrality based heuristics to choose seeds in a way that is likely to boost diffusion. Here the authors of the presented paper show that, for some frequently studied diffusion processes, randomly seedings + x individuals can prompt a larger cascade than optimally targeting the best s individuals, for a small x. They prove their results for large classes of random networks, but also show that they hold in simulations over several real-world networks. This suggests that the returns to collecting and analyzing network information to identify the optimal seeds may not be economically significant. Given these findings, practitioners interested in communicating a message to a large number of people may wish to compare the cost of network-based targeting to that of slightly expanding initial outreach.

The seminar series is jointly organized by ZEW, the University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and the Universities of Bonn and Mannheim. Additional information on the Virtual MD Seminar Series.


Mohammad Akbarpour

Stanford Graduate School of Business, USA

If you would like to participate and to stay up to date about upcoming presentations, please join our mailing list. You will receive the Zoom link for each talk

The seminar presentations are scheduled to last 60 minutes: 45 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes for both comments and questions.

We will experiment with various methods for questions: A moderator collects questions during the presentation. Speakers will be encouraged to pause every few slides to allow a gap for questions. The moderator will relay clarification questions or unmute selectively during the talk. Remaining questions will be collected and asked in the discussion period.

Just like with other initiated virtual seminars, these rules are subject to change as we gain experience with how to handle the seminar most efficiently.

The idea for this format was borrowed from the Chamberlain Seminar. Other online seminars can be found at the AEA website.

The Virtual Market Design Seminar is an open online alternative to seminars cancelled due to the COVID-19. Seminars will cover all fields from market design. The seminar presentations are scheduled to last 60 minutes, after 45 minutes of presentation, 15 minutes are for both comments and question.


15.06.2020 | 16:00 - 17:00 (CET)

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