CasFlow: Exploring Hierarchical Structures and Propagation Uncertainty for Cascade Prediction

Xovee Xu, Fan Zhou, Kunpeng Zhang, Siyuan Liu, Goce Trajcevski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Understanding in-network information diffusion is a fundamental problem in many applications and one of the primary challenges is to predict the information cascade size. Most of the existing models rely either on hypothesized point process (e.g., Poisson and Hawkes processes), or simply predict the information propagation via deep neural networks. However, they fail to simultaneously capture the underlying global and local structures of a cascade and the propagation uncertainty in the diffusion, which may result in unsatisfactory prediction performance. To address these, in this work we propose a novel probabilistic cascade prediction framework CasFlow: Hierarchical Cascade Normalizing Flows. CasFlow allows a non-linear information diffusion inference and models the information diffusion process by learning the latent representation of both the structural and temporal information. It is a pattern-agnostic model leveraging normalizing flows to learn the node-level and cascade-level latent factors in an unsupervised manner. In addition, CasFlow is capable of capturing both the cascade representation uncertainty and node infection uncertainty, while enabling hierarchical pattern learning of information diffusion. Extensive experiments conducted on real-world datasets demonstrate that CasFlow reduces the prediction error to 21.0% by only observing half an hour of cascades, compared to state-of-the-art approaches, while also enabling model interpretability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3484-3499
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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