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Active One-to-One Research Projects

Computing and Information Sciences

Strategic Network Diffusion


Professor Cesar Hidalgo

Aamena Ali Alshamsi
Professor Aamena Ali Alshamsi
PI at Masdar Institute


Strategic diffusion is a problem that decision makers face when they try to influence others. The overall objective of this project is to develop a strategic diffusion model and apply it to the problem of economic diversification.

First, this project aims to develop a general approach for studying problems of strategic diffusion in complex networks. In particular, the team will develop a theoretical model of strategic network diffusion that can be used to evaluate the optimal paths for diffusion in the case of complex contagion, when the probability of contagion depends on the number of infected neighboring nodes.

Next, the project team will apply the theoretical model to study how countries diversify their economies and estimate how much a country like the UAE should be focusing on products that are similar to the ones they currently export (but provide few opportunities for subsequent diversification) vs. focusing on products that are different from current exports and harder to develop (but provide new opportunities for subsequent economic diversification).

Finally, the project team will study strategic diffusion in the context of network rewiring, which can help one to understand the optimal evolution of a country in bilateral trade networks. This could ultimately aid decision makers as they seek to determine which potential export partner countries are the most productive to cultivate.


Abu Dhabi, and the UAE overall, has been keenly focused on developing and refining strategies for economic diversification beyond oil. To remain globally integrated, the UAE needs to constantly develop new commercial links by identifying the most impactful products to trade and the optimal commercial partners with whom to trade. The network diffusion model resulting from this project aims to serve as a valuable support tool for decision makers addressing these issues.