Limits for rumor spreading in stochastic populations

Lucas Boczkowski, Ofer Feinerman, Amos Korman, Emanuele Natale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Biological systems can share and collectively process information to yield emergent effects, despite inherent noise in communication. While man-made systems often employ intricate structural solutions to overcome noise, the structure of many biological systems is more amorphous. It is not well understood how communication noise may a ect the computational repertoire of such groups. To approach this question we consider the basic collective task of rumor spreading, in which information from few knowledgeable sources must reliably flow into the rest of the population. In order to study the effect of communication noise on the ability of groups that lack stable structures to efficiently solve this task, we consider a noisy version of the uniform PULL model. We prove a lower bound which implies that, in the presence of even moderate levels of noise that a ect all facets of the communication, no scheme can significantly outperform the trivial one in which agents have to wait until directly interacting with the sources. Our results thus show an exponential separation between the uniform PUSH and PULL communication models in the presence of noise. Such separation may be interpreted as suggesting that, in order to achieve efficient rumor spreading, a system must exhibit either some degree of structural stability or, alternatively, some facet of the communication which is immune to noise. We corroborate our theoretical findings with a new analysis of experimental data regarding recruitment in Cataglyphis Niger desert ants.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication9th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science, ITCS 2018
EditorsAnna R. Karlin
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl- Leibniz-Zentrum fur Informatik GmbH, Dagstuhl Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783959770606
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event9th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science, ITCS 2018 - Cambridge, United States
Duration: 11 Jan 201814 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs
ISSN (Print)1868-8969


Conference9th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science, ITCS 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Lucas Boczkowski, Ofer Feinerman, Amos Korman, and Emanuele Natale.


  • Ant recruitment
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Noisy communication
  • Passive communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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