A partial knowledge of friends of friends speeds social search
Milgram empirically showed that people knowing only connections to their friends could locate any person in the U.S. in a few steps. Later research showed that social network topology enables a node aware of its full routing to find an arbitrary target in even fewer steps. Yet, the success of people in forwarding efficiently knowing only personal connections is still not fully explained. To study this problem, we emulate it on a real location-based social network, Gowalla. It provides explicit information about friends and temporal locations of each user useful for studies of human mobility. Here, we use it to conduct a massive computational experiment to establish new necessary and sufficient conditions for achieving social search efficiency. The results demonstrate that only the distribution of friendship edges and the partial knowledge of friends of friends are essential and sufficient for the efficiency of social search. Surprisingly, the efficiency of the search using the original distribution of friendship edges is not dependent on how the nodes are distributed into space. Moreover, the effect of using a limited knowledge that each node possesses about friends of its friends is strongly nonlinear. We show that gains of such use grow statistically significantly only when this knowledge is limited to a small fraction of friends of friends.
- Pub Date:
- April 2019
- Computer Science - Social and Information Networks;
- Physics - Physics and Society
- PLOS ONE 16(8): e0255982 (2021)