On the Bursty Evolution of Online Social Networks

Sabrina Gaito
Matteo Zignani
Gian Paolo Rossi
Alessandra Sala
Xiaohan Zhao
Haitao Zheng
Ben Y. Zhao

Proceedings of The KDD HotSocial Workshop 2012

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Paper Abstract

The high level of dynamics in today's online social networks (OSNs) creates new challenges for their infrastructures and providers. In particular, dynamics involving edge creation has direct implications on strategies for resource allocation, data partitioning and replication. Understanding network dynamics in the context of physical time is a critical first step towards a predictive approach towards infrastructure management in OSNs. Despite increasing efforts to study social network dynamics, current analyses mainly focus on change over time of static metrics computed on snapshots of social graphs. The limited prior work models network dynamics with respect to a logical clock. In this paper, we present results of analyzing a large timestamped dataset describing the initial growth and evolution of a large social network in China. We analyze and model the burstiness of link creation process, using the second derivative, i.e. the acceleration of the degree. This allows us to detect bursts, and to characterize the social activity of a OSN user as one of four phases: acceleration at the beginning of an activity burst, where link creation rate is increasing; deceleration when burst is ending and link creation process is slowing; cruising, when node activity is in a steady state, and complete inactivity.