Thursday, January 28, 2010

Understanding the Spreading Patterns of Mobile Phone Viruses

Understanding the Spreading Patterns of Mobile Phone Viruses, Pu Wang, Marta Gonzalez, Cesar Hidalgo, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, in Science Express, April 2009, DOI: 10.1126/science.1167053

This paper studies data from cell phone usage and mobility and extrapolate a mobility model and a connectivity graph from proximity and from call connections. In the former graph, two points are connected if they are within a given distance of each other; in the latter, they connect if a phone call is made between two points (users).

From the graph, they can derive some basic properties. Also, if an Operating System is assigned to nodes on a graph, then the propagation of viruses targeting that OS can be computed. There is a critical threshold for the market share of a given OS (that is the fraction of cell phones using this OS in the graph) so that the virus becomes epidemic.

The topology of the graph is interesting (similar to that of Mobile Call Graphs by Seshadri et al) and the characterization could be useful in social network studies. The mathematical tools to compute the size of the cluster is also of interest. It's a cute paper. I would be cautious with the results for bluetooth virus propagation, which is extrapolated from the graph data, but is not really validated. I guess the extrapolation cannot be that off due to the multiple data points in between the extrapolated trajectories.

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