Combinatorial model and bounds for target set selection

Eyal Ackerman, Oren Ben-Zwi, Guy Wolfovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adoption of everyday decisions in public affairs, fashion, movie-going, and consumer behavior is now thoroughly believed to migrate in a population through an influential network. The same diffusion process when being imitated by intention is called viral marketing. This process can be modeled by a (directed) graph G=(V,E) with a threshold t(v) for every vertex v∈V, where v becomes active once at least t(v) of its (in-)neighbors are already active. A Perfect Target Set is a set of vertices whose activation will eventually activate the entire graph, and the Perfect Target Set Selection Problem (PTSS) asks for the minimum such initial set. It is known (Chen (2008) [6]) that PTSS is hard to approximate, even for some special cases such as bounded-degree graphs, or majority thresholds. We propose a combinatorial model for this dynamic activation process, and use it to represent PTSS and its variants by linear integer programs. This allows one to use standard integer programming solvers for solving small-size PTSS instances. We also show combinatorial lower and upper bounds on the size of the minimum Perfect Target Set. Our upper bound implies that there are always Perfect Target Sets of size at most |V|2 and 2|V|3 under majority and strict majority thresholds, respectively, both in directed and undirected graphs. This improves the bounds of 0.727|V| and 0.7732|V| found recently by Chang and Lyuu (2010) [5] for majority and strict majority thresholds in directed graphs, and matches their bound under majority thresholds in undirected graphs. Furthermore, our proof is much simpler, and we observe that some of these bounds are tight. One interesting and perhaps surprising implication of our lower bound for undirected graphs, is that it is easy to get a constant factor approximation for PTSS for "relatively balanced" graphs (e.g., bounded-degree graphs, nearly regular graphs) with a "more than majority" threshold (that is, t(v)=θ·deg(v), for every v∈V and some constant θ>12), whereas no polylogarithmic approximation exists for "more than majority" graphs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4017-4022
Number of pages6
JournalTheoretical Computer Science
Issue number44-46
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2010


  • Monotone irreversible dynamic monopoly (dynamo)
  • Target set selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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