Link prediction for ex ante influence maximization on temporal networks

Eric Yanchenko*, Tsuyoshi Murata, Petter Holme

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Influence maximization (IM) is the task of finding the most important nodes in order to maximize the spread of influence or information on a network. This task is typically studied on static or temporal networks where the complete topology of the graph is known. In practice, however, the seed nodes must be selected before observing the future evolution of the network. In this work, we consider this realistic ex ante setting where p time steps of the network have been observed before selecting the seed nodes. Then the influence is calculated after the network continues to evolve for a total of T> p time steps. We address this problem by using statistical, non-negative matrix factorization and graph neural networks link prediction algorithms to predict the future evolution of the network, and then apply existing influence maximization algorithms on the predicted networks. Additionally, the output of the link prediction methods can be used to construct novel IM algorithms. We apply the proposed methods to eight real-world and synthetic networks to compare their performance using the susceptible-infected (SI) diffusion model. We demonstrate that it is possible to construct quality seed sets in the ex ante setting as we achieve influence spread within 87% of the optimal spread on seven of eight network. In many settings, choosing seed nodes based only historical edges provides results comparable to the results treating the future graph snapshots as known. The proposed heuristics based on the link prediction model are also some of the best-performing methods. These findings indicate that, for these eight networks under the SI model, the latent process which determines the most influential nodes may not have large temporal variation. Thus, knowing the future status of the network is not necessary to obtain good results for ex ante IM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalApplied Network Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Diffusion
  • Dynamic networks
  • Graph neural networks
  • Influence maximization
  • Link prediction


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