### Popularity Prediction for Social Media over Arbitrary Time Horizons

Daniel Haimovich, Dima Karamshuk, Thomas Leeper, Evgeniy Riabenko, Milan Vojnovic

International World Wide Web Conference (WWW)

A growing set of on-line applications are generating data that can be viewed as very large collections of small, dense social graphs – these range from sets of social groups, events, or collaboration projects to the vast collection of graph neighborhoods in large social networks. A natural question is how to usefully define a domain-independent `coordinate system’ for such a collection of graphs, so that the set of possible structures can be compactly represented and understood within a common space. In this work, we draw on the theory of graph homomorphisms to formulate and analyze such a representation, based on computing the frequencies of small induced subgraphs within each graph. We find that the space of subgraph frequencies is governed both by its combinatorial properties – based on extremal results that constrain all graphs – as well as by its empirical properties – manifested in the way that real social graphs appear to lie near a simple one-dimensional curve through this space.

We develop flexible frameworks for studying each of these aspects. For capturing empirical properties, we characterize a simple stochastic generative model, a single-parameter extension of Erdos-Renyi random graphs, whose stationary distribution over subgraphs closely tracks the one-dimensional concentration of the real social graph families. For the extremal properties, we develop a tractable linear program for bounding the feasible space of subgraph frequencies by harnessing a toolkit of known extremal graph theory. Together, these two complementary frameworks shed light on a fundamental question pertaining to social graphs: what properties of social graphs are `social’ properties and what properties are `graph’ properties?

We conclude with a brief demonstration of how the coordinate system we examine can also be used to perform classification tasks, distinguishing between structures arising from different types of social graphs.

Daniel Haimovich, Dima Karamshuk, Thomas Leeper, Evgeniy Riabenko, Milan Vojnovic

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