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A Utilitarian Approach to Modeling Information Flows in Social Networks

Authors: Usha Sridhar, Sridhar Mandyam

Abstract:

We propose a multi-agent based utilitarian approach to model and understand information flows in social networks that lead to Pareto optimal informational exchanges. We model the individual expected utility function of the agents to reflect the net value of information received. We show how this model, adapted from a theorem by Karl Borch dealing with an actuarial Risk Exchange concept in the Insurance industry, can be used for social network analysis. We develop a utilitarian framework that allows us to interpret Pareto optimal exchanges of value as potential information flows, while achieving a maximization of a sum of expected utilities of information of the group of agents. We examine some interesting conditions on the utility function under which the flows are optimal. We illustrate the promise of this new approach to attach economic value to information in networks with a synthetic example.

Keywords: Borch's Theorem , Economic value of information, Information Exchange, Pareto Optimal Solution, Social Networks, Utility Functions

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1332396

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