Competition-Induced Criticality in a Model of Meme Popularity

James P. Gleeson, Jonathan A. Ward, Kevin P. O'Sullivan, William T. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Heavy-tailed distributions of meme popularity occur naturally in a model of meme diffusion on social networks. Competition between multiple memes for the limited resource of user attention is identified as the mechanism that poises the system at criticality. The popularity growth of each meme is described by a critical branching process, and asymptotic analysis predicts power-law distributions of popularity with very heavy tails (exponent α<2, unlike preferential-attachment models), similar to those seen in empirical data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number048701
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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