Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

typodupeerror

## Insurgent Attacks Follow Mathematical Pattern181

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, suggest 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. This 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 which 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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

## Insurgent Attacks Follow Mathematical Pattern

• #### Uhuh (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:47AM (#30498430)
I saw this on "Numb3rs!"
• #### Insurgent mathematics . . . (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:10AM (#30498524)

Insurgent: "Hey, chief, there's a big column of Americans coming! Let's skank 'em!"

Chief: "Hold on, let me get out my calculator . . . damn it! I should have paid more attention to the Linear Programming and Game Theory courses at the Madrasah! Go ahead and attack . . . then turn on CNN to see if we got any media exposure. And please bring me some more pencils and paper . . . this mathematically based insurgency strategy *really* sucks!"

• #### Re:Uhuh (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:24AM (#30498606)

Warning - a lot of things look like they follow a power law.

Exactly. And in case it doesn't fit into a power law, you can probably make it fit into a Gaussian distribution.

at which point it all becomes a blur

• #### Re:Uhuh (Score:3, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:58AM (#30498784)
Luckily our government is dedicated to collecting the valuable data, in vast quantities.
• #### Re:Psychohistory begins. (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @12:30PM (#30499428)

I'm going to begin the process of submitting this post thousands of times of the next few minutes. Perhaps they'll get the idea fdrom the logs that it just might be more efficient to allow the post?
So the last count is 20 minutes, but I've seen it go as high as 29 before.
Here go, watch your logs there slashdot boys and tell me which is more efficient?
Submitted 100+ times now... I guess what they're saving in perl cpu rapage they are losing in bandwidth, that does not make sense, bendwidth is much more expensive than processing power.
Up to 25 minutes and over 400 submissions.. wow, that's efficient code there, yup.

You're doing it wrong. There's no use in doing thousands of submissions if you don't follow the correct power law. An attack with ten submissions should be 316 times more likely to occur than an attack with 100 submissions.

• #### Re:Insurgent mathematics . . . (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @01:07PM (#30499682)
It's easy to forget what sin is in the middle of a battlefield.
• #### Re:Hello Captain Obvious! (Score:2, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @01:09PM (#30499694)

Meh. I could have told you that.

• #### Re:Uhuh (Score:2, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @01:11PM (#30499704)

Indeed. You don't get insurgents without an occupying power*.

* For the semantic pedants: While technically insurgents could resist a domestic government, it's been the case in the 20th century and since that insurgent warfare is a response to invading forces.

• #### Re:Insurgent mathematics . . . (Score:3, Funny)

<web@pineapple.vg> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @03:30PM (#30500396) Homepage
but if you're lucky you might get a tan
• #### Re:Uhuh (Score:4, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @03:47PM (#30500462)

Normally, you can.

• #### Re:Uhuh (Score:1, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @04:47PM (#30500704)

I thought the IT version *was* "A GUI interface in VB to track an IP address"

• #### Re:There was a TED talk on this (Score:4, Funny)

on Saturday December 19, 2009 @08:10PM (#30501534)

Unless there's a REALLY GOOD conspiracy theory out there that I don't know about, I think you mean "...the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor..."

Make headway at work. Continue to let things deteriorate at home.

Working...