MIT-Harvard CINCS / Hamilton Institute Seminar


Date: March 31st

Time: 10AM EDT



Password: 019447


Speaker: Ali Jadbabaie, MIT


Title: Persuasion, new sharing and spread of (mis)information on social networks


Abstract:  In this talk, I will present  a model of online news dissemination on social networks. Given a piece of news shared with a small subset of agents, a continuum of agents with heterogeneous priors decide whether to share the news with their followers. This decision is based on whether receiving the news can persuade their followers to take an action that is optimal with respect to their beliefs (e.g. to vote a certain way) , given a nominal cost for sharing.  I will show how surprise and affirmation motives naturally emerge from the utility-maximizing behavior of agents and characterize the dynamics of the news spread and the size of cascade at equilibrium, uncovering the mechanisms that lead to a sharing cascade.  In particular I will study the effect of the network structure (as characterized by its connectivity), heterogeneity of priors and credibility of news on the size of a sharing cascade. In particular, we show that depending on the connectivity level of the network and diversity of agents’ perspectives, news with low credibility can generate the largest cascade. Next I will discuss strategic variants of the model according to which  agents may also interpret not receiving the news. Joint work with Chin-Chia Hsu, Amir Ajorlou (MIT IDSS and LIDS), and Muhamet Yildiz (MIT Econ)


Bio: Ali Jadbabaie is the JR East Professor and Head of the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a core faculty member in the Institute for Data, Systems and Society (IDSS), and a PI at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS). Previously, he served as the director of the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center and as the cofounder and Associate Director of IDSS at MIT and the founding Program head of the IDSS flagship PhD program on Social and Engineering Systems. He received a BSc with High Honors from Sharif University of Technology, his MS in electrical and computer engineering from the University of New Mexico, and a PhD in control and dynamical systems from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He was a postdoctoral scholar at Yale University before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania where he was subsequently promoted through the ranks and held the Alfred Fitler Moore Professorship in Network Science in the Electrical and Systems Engineering department with secondary appointments in computer and information science and operations, information and decisions in the Wharton School. A member of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Lab at Penn, Prof. Jadbabaie was also the co- founder and director of the Raj and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering (NETS), an undergraduate inter-disciplinary degree program. Prof. Jadbabaie was the inaugural editor- in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering, a journal sponsored by several IEEE societies. He is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the O. Hugo Schuck Best Paper Award from the American Automatic Control Council, and the George S. Axelby Best Paper Award from the IEEE Control Systems Society and is a senior author of several student best paper Awards. He is an IEEE fellow and recipient of a 2016 Vannevar Bush Fellowship from the office of Secretary of Defense which provides 3 $M in funding over 5 Years for research on topics of his choi e. His current research interests include the interplay of dynamic systems and networks with specific emphasis on multi-agent coordination and control, distributed optimization, network science, and network economics.