The Algorithm That Helps You Friend People You Don’t Know

Computer scientists have developed an algorithm that uses the structure of a social network to find the best strategy for friending people you don’t know.

Imagine you want to friend an influential person on Facebook who you don’t know and with whom you have no friends in common. How would you go about the task?

One option is simply to send an invitation directly to that person. But without anybody to recommend you, the chances of him or her accepting the invitation are slim.  

But there is another strategy: to start friending people who are close to you on the network but more likely to know your target. The idea here is to build a set of friends that your target shares so that when you finally send the important invitation, your target can see that you have similar social circles and so is more likely to accept.

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Source: MIT Technology Review


Wei Chen (Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing)