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Posts Tagged ‘Arms Races’

Kenneth Waltz, Iran and Nuclear Weapons

As I’ve been in the final months of completing my dissertation, I’ve had far less time to devote to the blog and topics that I’d like to spend more time thinking and writing about. While it is now beyond the news cycle, Kenneth Waltz’s recent essay in Foreign Affairs was quite interesting, but also misleading. At first glance, the policy prescriptive nature of the article was eye catching and challenging, and essentially continued his long-running debate with Scott Sagan and the rest of the international security studies community over the spread of nuclear weapons. The problem with Waltz’s argument, however, is less about his particular conclusions, than the broader problems of academic theory, models in general (both formal and informal), and their relevance to policy in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »


A while ago I made some comments on Richard Danzig’s CNAS piece, Driving in the Dark. It had been my intention to follow-up that post quickly, but as often happens, other demands rose to the top of the stack. For the sake of completeness, I wanted to follow up with some additional thoughts on the second part of his paper. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 6

Previous posts had examined the replicator equation as the basis of agent behavior in an arms race defined by a game of rock-paper-scissors (RPS). This post begins a follow-on examination regarding the use of best-response as an alternative behavior or strategy on the part of competing agents. In some ways, best-response may be unrealistic with respect to how agents can adapt, especially if they are capable of making large jumps or changes to strategies in short-periods of time that are not reflective of real-world organizations. However, in other ways, the strategy is quite realistic for social actors because it affords them opportunities to revive dead or eliminated strategies when suitable while the biologically based replicator loses them forever once extinct. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 5

The last examination of the rock-paper-scissors (RPS) model added spatial considerations to the replicator equation, used as the basis for agent logic. Here, the outputs and responsiveness to geographic considerations are examined using the modified replicator equation discussed earlier. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 4

It has been a while, but I’m going to return to the Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) model that I started developing several weeks ago. This posting looks at the mechanics of of adding geography to the model, while a future posting will actually run the geographic version of the model—this posting is essentially a bridge between model assessments. Having already established that the agent-based framework can replicate the behavior of the equation based model, modifications to the ABM can add new features and relax assumptions embedded in the mathematical formalism, allowing for explorations that are increasingly relevant to the international system. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 3

This post extends the mathematical model of the Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) game analyzed in earlier postings (here and here). In order to overcome the limitations of the mathematical model, an Agent-Based-Model (ABM) was developed that contains the essential elements and assumptions of the original model. However, by changing the formalism, new opportunities to extend the model become possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 2

This posting will examine some of the basic properties of a mathematical model of RPS implemented in Excel that employs the replicator equation as a way of examining the dynamics of innovation within arms races. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 1

I have always been fascinated by military innovation and they ways in which individuals and organizations perceive and adapt to threats and opportunities in their environments. One of the important lessons from game theory, biology, and military history is the fragility of dominant positions – there is rarely a dominant strategy that trumps all possible options available to one’s adversaries. Read the rest of this entry »
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