Cascades and Social Influence on Networks

October 03, 2014, Webb 1100

Mason Porter

University of Oxford, Mathematics


I discuss "simple" dynamical systems on networks and examine how network structure affects dynamics of processes running on top of networks. I'll give an introduction to the idea of social ("complex") contagions, and I'll present a model for multi-stage complex contagions--in which fanatics produce greater influence than mere followers. I'll also briefly discuss the use of ideas from topics like persistent homology to examine wavefront propagation versus the appearance of new contagion clusters, and I'll present a model (without network structure) for the adoption of applications on Facebook. The last family of models illustrates how very different time-dependent dynamics can produce quantitatively similar long-time behavior, which poses both very serious challenges and exciting opportunities for the modeling of complex systems.

Speaker's Bio

Mason Porter is Professor of Nonlinear and Complex Systems in the Mathematical Institute at University of Oxford. He earned a BS in applied mathematics from Caltech in 1998 and a PhD from Cornell University's Center for Applied Mathematics in 2002. He then did postdocs at Georgia Tech (math), MSRI, and Caltech (condensed-matter physics) before joining the faculty of University of Oxford in fall 2007. Mason's research interests span far and wide in networks, nonlinear dynamics, and complex systems. He won the Erdos-Renyi prize in Network Science in 2014 and is on the editorial board of 5 journals (including 2 of the new network-science journals).