Estimating Social Opinion Dynamics Models from Voting Records

Xiaoxiao Wu, Hoi To Wai, Anna Scaglione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper aims at modeling and inferring the influence among individuals from voting data (or more generally from actions that are selected by choosing one of m different options). The voting data are modeled as outcomes of a discrete random process, which we refer to as the discuss-then-vote model, whose evolution is governed by the DeGroot opinion dynamics with stubborn nodes. Based on the proposed model, we formulate the maximum a posterior estimator for the opinions and influence matrix (or the transition matrix) and derive a tractable approximation that results in a convex optimization problem. In the paper, the identifiability of the network dynamics' parameters and the vote prediction procedure based on the influence matrix are discussed in depth. Our methodology is tested through numerical simulations as well as through its application to a set of the U.S. Senate roll call data. Interestingly, in spite of the relatively small data record available, the influence matrix inferred from the real data is consistent with the common intuition about the influence structure in the U.S. Senate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4193-4206
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Signal Processing
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2018


  • Data mining
  • US government
  • influence analysis
  • senator
  • social network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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