Influential spreaders

Why connections aren't everything

Identifying the most efficient spreaders in a network is an important step to optimize the use of available resources and ensure the more efficient spread of information. In a recent paper we showed that, in contrast to common belief, the most influential spreaders in a social network do not correspond to the best connected people or to the most central people (high betweenness centrality).
Instead: (i) The most efficient spreaders are those located within the core of the network as identified by the k-shell decomposition analysis. (ii) When multiple spreaders are considered simultaneously, the distance between them becomes the crucial parameter that determines the extend of the spreading. Furthermore, we find that - in the case of infections that do not confer immunity on recovered individuals - the infection persists in the high k-shell layers of the network under conditions where hubs may not be able to preserve the infection. Our analysis provides a plausible route for an optimal design of efficient dissemination strategies.