Maximizing Activity in Ising Networks via the TAP Approximation


  • Christopher Lynn University of Pennsylvania
  • Daniel Lee University of Pennsylvania


control, maximum entropy models, influence maximization


A wide array of complex biological, social, and physical systems have recently been shown to be quantitatively described by Ising models, which lie at the intersection of statistical physics and machine learning. Here, we study the fundamental question of how to optimize the state of a networked Ising system given a budget of external influence. In the continuous setting where one can tune the influence applied to each node, we propose a series of approximate gradient ascent algorithms based on the Plefka expansion, which generalizes the naive mean field and TAP approximations. In the discrete setting where one chooses a small set of influential nodes, the problem is equivalent to the famous influence maximization problem in social networks with an additional stochastic noise term. In this case, we provide sufficient conditions for when the objective is submodular, allowing a greedy algorithm to achieve an approximation ratio of 1-1/e. Additionally, we compare the Ising-based algorithms with traditional influence maximization algorithms, demonstrating the practical importance of accurately modeling stochastic fluctuations in the system.




How to Cite

Lynn, C., & Lee, D. (2018). Maximizing Activity in Ising Networks via the TAP Approximation. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 32(1). Retrieved from



AAAI Technical Track: Cognitive Systems