Interactive discovery processes on complex networks


Innovation is the driving force of human progress. Recent urn models reproduce well the dynamics through which the discovery of a novelty may trigger further ones, in an expanding space of opportunities, but neglect the effects of social interactions. Here we focus on the mechanisms of collective exploration and we propose a model in which many urns, representing different explorers, are coupled through the links of a social network and exploit opportunities coming from their contacts. We study different network structures showing, both analytically and numerically, that the pace of discovery of an explorer depends on its centrality in the social network. Our model sheds light on the role that social structures play in discovery processes.

In Physical Review Letters