Analysis, Conferences, International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Science

Observations on Quantitative Modeling in Defense and Intelligence Analysis

Over the last couple of weeks I had the opportunity to participate in a two conferences that focused on the role of formal modeling in intelligence and defense analysis. The preparation for these events kept me away from the blog, and I’m hoping to have a chance to write more as the majority of my time and attention return to my dissertation for the next several months.

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International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Science

Commemorating Desmond Saunders-Newton

Today, November 24th, marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Desmond Saunders-Newton, a dear friend and mentor who left this world far too soon. Dez, as he was known, possessed a unique combination of vision and ability to think big, and yet connect with people on the most human and personal of terms. He first introduced me to complexity theory, Agent-Based Modeling (ABM), and computation in general, creating the lens through which I see the international system through. I don’t fully know how to characterize my years of working with Dez, or the depth of the pain felt by his absence, but wanted to acknowledge his role in my life in some way on this Thanksgiving holiday.

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International Relations, Modeling

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.

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Analysis, International Relations, Modeling, Science

Can International Relations Theories be Empirically Tested?

It’s been several weeks since my last posting examining. Over that time, I’ve been working towards the completion of a project that has taken a significant chunk of my time and forced me to think about the use of ABM in the study of international relations. In doing so, I’ve begun to explore the philosophy of science and the extent to which theories of international relations are really amenable to empirical testing.

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International Relations, Modeling, National Security, Politics, Science

The Use and Abuse of Models in International Security

Some days just appear to have a theme that constantly nags or colors everything that happens. It happens that yesterday was one of those days for me. I’m in the process of finishing up a project and I need to complete a book chapter on the validation of ABM based analysis for national security analysis. Importantly, the issue is less about the validation of the models themselves, and more concerned with whether or not analysts can use models for responsible inferences in support of decisionmaking. It also happened that the director of the Krasnow Institute where I work posted this on his own blog, and I came across this older piece in on the Wired website regarding some DARPA work that I’m familiar with. To add just a small piece more, a former government senior executive came to speak to my department yesterday about the challenges of ‘wicked problems’ in government, particularly in the design, development, and employment of new technologies and the difficulty of getting to work with the social structure of the government (building a new widget was rarely the difficult part).

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