Efficient Algorithms for the Identification of Top-k Structural Hole Spanners in Large Social Networks

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, 2017, 29 (5), pp. 1017 - 1030
Issue Date:
2017-05-01
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© 2017 IEEE. Recent studies show that individuals in a social network can be divided into different groups of densely connected communities, and these individuals who bridge different communities, referred to as structural hole spanners, have great potential to acquire resources/information from communities and thus benefit from the access. Structural hole spanners are crucial in many real applications such as community detections, diffusion controls, viral marketing, etc. In spite of their importance, little attention has been paid to them. Particularly, how to accurately characterize the structural hole spanners and how to devise efficient yet scalable algorithms to find them in a large social network are fundamental issues. In this paper, we study the top-k structural hole spanner problem. We first provide a novel model to measure the quality of structural hole spanners through exploiting the structural hole spanner properties. Due to its NP-hardness, we then devise two efficient yet scalable algorithms, by developing innovative filtering techniques that can filter out unlikely solutions as quickly as possible, while the proposed techniques are built up on fast estimations of the upper and lower bounds on the cost of an optimal solution and make use of articulation points in real social networks. We finally conduct extensive experiments to validate the effectiveness of the proposed model, and to evaluate the performance of the proposed algorithms using real world datasets. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed model can capture the characteristics of structural hole spanners accurately, and the structural hole spanners found by the proposed algorithms are much better than those by existing algorithms in all considered social networks, while the running times of the proposed algorithms are very fast.
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