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Does friend’s friend have to be a friend?

“Learning to Predict Reciprocity and Triadic Closure in Social Networks”

TianCheng Lou, Jie Tang, John Hopcroft, ZhanPeng Fang, XiaoWen Ding

Recently, our class talked about strong ties and weak ties, and both of them play powerful roles in networks by bridging the local and the global. While our textbook has looked into questions such as how information flows through a network, this paper seems to be interesting in a way that it digs into a more fundamental issue – how a network is formed. To be more specific, it focuses on figuring out how a two-way connection, which is the most common relationship in social networks, is developed from a one-way connection. At the same time, it discusses a further step that eventually develops into a triadic closure.

It is really interesting and a little surprising to find out that the most common one-way relationship in the world is the relationships between celebrities and fans. This actually makes a lot of sense if we think about any social medias. For example, if you open up Instagram or Twitter, almost all celebrities have more followers than people they follow.

This paper sheds light on several insights into potential applications of studying the developing process of a relationship. For instance, most obvious one, how have friendships been created? After people figure out this puzzle, maybe people can tell how opinions are spreading on the internet or how fake news, rumors, or even hatred speeches are spread out.

This paper also shares some very interesting observations. First, researchers had two categories for tweeter users – elite users and ordinary users. They found that the pattern with the highest probability to form relationships as a group of three is a form of (elite – ordinary – elite). And this observation leads to one of their conclusions that “elite users play an important role for developing triadic closure.”

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