Efficient network immunization under limited knowledge
National Science Review
Targeted immunization of centralized nodes in large-scale networks has attracted significant attention. However, in real-world scenarios, knowledge and observations of the network may be limited thereby precluding a full assessment of the optimal nodes to immunize (or quarantine) in order to avoid epidemic spreading such as that of the current COVID-19 epidemic. Here, we study a novel immunization strategy where only n nodes are observed at a time and the most central among these n nodes is
... hese n nodes is immunized. This process can globally immunize a network. We find that even for small n (≈10) there is significant improvement in the immunization (quarantine) which is very close to the levels of an immunization with full knowledge. We develop an analytical framework for our method and determine the critical percolation threshold pc and the size of the giant component P∞ for networks with arbitrary degree distributions P(k). In the limit of n → ∞ we recover prior work on targeted immunization, whereas for n = 1 we recover the known case of random immunization. Between these two extremes, we observe that as n increases, pc increases quickly towards its optimal value under targeted immunization with complete information. In particular, we find a new general scaling relationship between |pc(∞) − pc(n)| and n as |pc(∞) − pc(n)| ∼ n−1exp ( − αn). For Scale-free (SF) networks, where P(k) ∼ k−γ, 2 < γ < 3, we find that pc has a transition from zero to non-zero when n increases from n = 1 to O(log N) (where N is the size of network). Thus, for SF networks, having knowledge of ≈log N nodes and immunizing them can dramatically reduce epidemic spreading. We also demonstrate our limited knowledge immunization strategy on several real-world networks and confirm that in these real networks, pc increases significantly even for small n.