Finding the optimal social trust path for the selection of trustworthy service providers in complex social networks

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93 Citations (Scopus)


Online Social networks have provided the infrastructure for a number of emerging applications in recent years, e.g., for the recommendation of service providers or the recommendation of files as services. In these applications, trust is one of the most important factors in decision making by a service consumer, requiring the evaluation of the trustworthiness of a service provider along the social trust paths from a service consumer to the service provider. However, there are usually many social trust paths between two participants who are unknown to one another. In addition, some social information, such as social relationships between participants and the recommendation roles of participants, has significant influence on trust evaluation but has been neglected in existing studies of online social networks. Furthermore, it is a challenging problem to search the optimal social trust path that can yield the most trustworthy evaluation result and satisfy a service consumer's trust evaluation criteria based on social information. In this paper, we first present a novel complex social network structure incorporating trust, social relationships and recommendation roles, and introduce a new concept, Quality of Trust (QoT), containing the above social information as attributes. We then model the optimal social trust path selection problem with multiple end-to-end QoT constraints as a Multiconstrained Optimal Path (MCOP) selection problem, which is shown to be NP-Complete. To deal with this challenging problem, we propose a novel Multiple Foreseen Path-Based Heuristic algorithm MFPB-HOSTP for the Optimal Social Trust Path selection, where multiple backward local social trust paths (BLPs) are identified and concatenated with one Forward Local Path (FLP), forming multiple foreseen paths. Our strategy could not only help avoid failed feasibility estimation in path selection in certain cases, but also increase the chances of delivering a near-optimal solution with high quality. The results of our experiments conducted on a real data set of online social networks illustrate that MFPB-HOSTP algorithm can efficiently identify the social trust paths with better quality than our previously proposed H-OSTP algorithm that outperforms prior algorithms for the MCOP selection problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6109231
Pages (from-to)152-167
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Services Computing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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