Scientific proposal for sourcing origins of viral information, from tweets and blogs to diseases (such as through a river network, pictured above) - via Gigaom:
No, Vanilla Ice isn’t dead — and if he had access to a new algorithm from Swiss researcher Pedro Pinto, the Ice Man could go all techno-ninja and track down who started the rumor claiming he was. That’s because Pinto and his colleagues at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have developed an algorithm for finding the source of such rumors, as well as viruses (physical and digital) and other maladies, even across highly complex networks.
Their method, according to an abstract of a paper just published in Physical Review Letters, is ideal for situations where there is relatively little data to work with, and is “based on the principles used by telecommunication towers to pinpoint cell phone users.” Essentially, the algorithm starts by looking at a small collection of points within a network and working back from there to determine the origin, kind of like how investigators can zero in on a cell phone’s location using triangulation. The more connections, or observers, a particular point has, the fewer that are needed to track down the source point.
… Pinto explains that his team’s method could also be used for everything from identifying the source of a computer virus to determining the blogs most likely to make web content go viral to preventing the spread of an epidemic or chemical attack by learning how it’s spreading.