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Insurgent Attacks Follow Mathematical Pattern

pickens (49171) writes | more than 4 years ago

The Military 6

Hugh Pickens writes "Nature reports that data collected on the timing of attacks and number of casualties from more than 54,000 events across nine insurgent wars, including those fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2008 and in Sierra Leone between 1994 and 2003 suggests that insurgencies have a common underlying pattern that may allow the timing of attacks and the number of casualties to be predicted. By plotting the distribution of the frequency and size of events, the team found that insurgent wars follow an approximate power law, in which the frequency of attacks decreases with increasing attack size to the power of 2.5. That means that for any insurgent war, an attack with 10 casualties is 316 times more likely to occur than one with 100 casualties (316 is 10 to the power of 2.5). "We found that the way in which humans do insurgent wars — that is, the number of casualties and the timing of events — is universal," says team leader Neil Johnson, a physicist at the University of Miami in Florida. "This changes the way we think insurgency works." To explain what was driving this common pattern, the researchers created a mathematical model that assumes that insurgent groups form and fragment when they sense danger, and strike in well-timed bursts to maximize their media exposure. Johnson is now working to predict how the insurgency in Afghanistan might respond to the influx of foreign troops recently announced by US President Barack Obama. "We do observe a complicated pattern that has to do with the way humans do violence in some collective way," adds Johnson."

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Asimov's Psychohistory (1)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30493554)

From Wikipedia:

Psychohistory, a fictional science in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe, combines history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make (nearly) exact predictions of the collective actions of very large groups of people, such as the Galactic Empire.

Re:Asimov's Psychohistory (1)

number1scatterbrain (976838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30495668)

It's like the uncertainty principle and the decoherence/coherence transition in quantum theory. Any single person's actions are unpredictable, but in increasing numbers, coherent patterns are evident and behavior can be predicted.

Re:Asimov's Psychohistory (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30495854)

That's a nice way to have both determinism and free will. I approve;)

Re:Asimov's Psychohistory (1)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 4 years ago | (#30497226)

Excellent! Another Asimov fan. Why do you think I tagged the story as "seldonplan"? I nearly fell out when Dr. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita [] made a reference to Harry Seldon when he was on the Daily Show discussing his work.

Validation ?? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30497612)

How much does it tell us that there is no hint that they validated their model by 'predicting' past events from their data using their "model" ?


State actors? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501780)

If its too much like clock work it could be database set.
Who loves computers and timetables - states.
Recall the SAS soldiers caught in Iraq by the Iraqi police in a booby-trapped car, traditional Arab dress, wigs and with explosives.
Agents provocateurs masquerading as ‘insurgents’ on false flag operations? [] []
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