# Backward and Forward Inference in Interacting Independent-Cascade Processes: A Scalable and Convergent Message-Passing Approach

We study the problems of estimating the past and future evolutions of two diffusion processes that spread concurrently on a network. Specifically, given a known network $G=(V, \overrightarrow{E})$ and a (possibly noisy) snapshot $\mathcal{O}_n$ of its state taken at (a possibly unknown) time $W$, we wish to determine the posterior distributions of the initial state of the network and the infection times of its nodes. These distributions are useful in finding source nodes of epidemics and rumors -- $\textit{backward inference}$ -- , and estimating the spread of a fixed set of source nodes -- $\textit{forward inference}$. To model the interaction between the two processes, we study an extension of the independent-cascade (IC) model where, when a node gets infected with either process, its susceptibility to the other one changes. First, we derive the exact joint probability of the initial state of the network and the observation-snapshot $\mathcal{O}_n$. Then, using the machinery of factor-graphs, factor-graph transformations, and the generalized distributive-law, we derive a Belief-Propagation (BP) based algorithm that is scalable to large networks and can converge on graphs of arbitrary topology (at a likely expense in approximation accuracy).

PDF Abstract