Indexed on: 18 Apr '11Published on: 18 Apr '11Published in: Mathematics - Probability
The bounded confidence model of opinion dynamics, introduced by Deffuant et al, is a stochastic model for the evolution of continuous-valued opinions within a finite group of peers. We prove that, as time goes to infinity, the opinions evolve globally into a random set of clusters too far apart to interact, and thereafter all opinions in every cluster converge to their barycenter. We then prove a mean-field limit result, propagation of chaos: as the number of peers goes to infinity in adequately started systems and time is rescaled accordingly, the opinion processes converge to i.i.d. nonlinear Markov (or McKean-Vlasov) processes; the limit opinion processes evolves as if under the influence of opinions drawn from its own instantaneous law, which are the unique solution of a nonlinear integro-differential equation of Kac type. This implies that the (random) empirical distribution processes converges to this (deterministic) solution. We then prove that, as time goes to infinity, this solution converges to a law concentrated on isolated opinions too far apart to interact, and identify sufficient conditions for the limit not to depend on the initial condition, and to be concentrated at a single opinion. Finally, we prove that if the equation has an initial condition with a density, then its solution has a density at all times, develop a numerical scheme for the corresponding functional equation, and show numerically that bifurcations may occur.