Monday, November 28, 2016

Networks of conforming or nonconforming individuals always reach a satisfactory state

Here is an intriguing study from Ramazi et al., who use linear-threshold-based dynamic models to show that whether individuals go with or against the crowd, a stable and satisfactory outcome results. (The model code, given in the text of the article, I don't even begin to I take their word for the results.)
Binary decisions of agents coupled in networks can often be classified into two types: “coordination,” where an agent takes an action if enough neighbors are using that action, as in the spread of social norms, innovations, and viral epidemics, and “anticoordination,” where too many neighbors taking a particular action causes an agent to take the opposite action, as in traffic congestion, crowd dispersion, and division of labor. Both of these cases can be modeled using linear-threshold–based dynamics, and a fundamental question is whether the individuals in such networks are likely to reach decisions with which they are satisfied. We show that, in the coordination case, and perhaps more surprisingly, also in the anticoordination case, the agents will indeed always tend to reach satisfactory decisions, that is, the network will almost surely reach an equilibrium state. This holds for every network topology and every distribution of thresholds, for both asynchronous and partially synchronous decision-making updates. These results reveal that irregular network topology, population heterogeneity, and partial synchrony are not sufficient to cause cycles or nonconvergence in linear-threshold dynamics; rather, other factors such as imitation or the coexistence of coordinating and anticoordinating agents must play a role.

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