Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Rules of engagement

Jul 21st 2005
From The Economist print edition

Scientists find surprising regularities in war and terrorism

ON JULY 19th, IraqBodyCount, a group of academics who are attempting to monitor the casualties of the conflict in that country, published a report suggesting that almost 25,000 civilians have been killed in it so far. In other words, 34 a day. But that is an average. On some days the total is lower, and on some higher—occasionally much higher.

It is this variation around the mean that interests Neil Johnson of the University of Oxford and Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway College, London. They think it is possible to trace and model the development of wars from the patterns of casualties they throw up. In particular, by analysing IraqBodyCount's data and comparing them with equivalent numbers from the conflict in Colombia, they have concluded that, from very different beginnings, these conflicts are evolving into something rather similar to one another.

The groundwork for this sort of study was laid by Lewis Fry Richardson, a British physicist, with a paper on the mathematics of war that was published in 1948. Using data from conflicts that took place between 1820 and 1945, Fry Richardson made a graph displaying the number of wars that had death tolls in various ranges. The outcome was startling: rather than varying wildly or chaotically, the probability of individual wars having particular numbers of casualties followed a mathematical relationship known as a power law.

Power-law relationships crop up in many fields of science and are often a characteristic of complex and highly interacting systems (which war certainly is). Earthquake frequencies and stockmarket fluctuations are both described by power laws, for example. Power laws also have properties that make them different from statistical distributions such as the normal curve (or bell curve, as it is familiarly known). Unlike a bell curve, a power-law distribution has only one tail and no peak. Small tremors occur frequently, but over a few decades enormously large earthquakes will also occur with reasonable frequency. As will deadly wars and attacks.

In May, Aaron Clauset and Maxwell Young, of the University of New Mexico, modified Fry Richardson's method to look at terrorist attacks. Instead of total casualties in a conflict, they plotted the deaths from individual incidents. Again, they got a power law. Actually, they got two. Power-law relationships are characterised by a number called an index. For each ten-fold increase in the death toll, the probability of such an event occurring decreases by a factor of ten raised to the power of this index, which is how the distributions get their name. Terrorist attacks within G7 countries could be distinguished from those inside non-G7 countries by their different indices. G7 countries were more likely to suffer large attacks. Indeed, in an article published earlier this year by Britain's Institute of Physics, Mr Clauset and Mr Maxwell said that “if we assume that the scaling relationship and the frequency of events do not change in the future, we can expect to see another attack at least as severe as September 11th within the next seven years.”

Dr Johnson and Dr Spagat took the method a couple of steps further. They extended Mr Clauset's and Mr Maxwell's idea of looking at the sizes of individual incidents within a campaign to other sorts of conflict, and also looked at how those conflicts have changed over time. As they report in a paper published recently in arXiv, an online archive, they found, yet again, that the data follow power laws. And for both of the wars they studied, the indices of those power laws have been approaching the value Mr Clauset and Mr Maxwell found for non-G7 terrorism, though from different directions. In other words, for the war in Iraq, the data indicate a transition from an index characteristic of more lethal, conventional war between armies to one closer to terrorism. No real surprise there, perhaps, though it is interesting to see perceptions on the ground reflected in the maths. For the Colombian conflict, though, the data show the opposite, a transition from a war characterised by smaller, less cohesive forces to a more unified rebel front—something that ought to worry Colombia's government.

Dr Johnson and Dr Spagat put forward as an explanation a mathematical model they have developed. It consists of a group of self-contained “attack units”, each of a particular strength. Such units can join together or fragment into smaller pieces. Over time, an equilibrium of joining and breaking is reached, but where that equilibrium lies depends on the strength of any central organisation. The model explains the power-law behaviour seen in both conventional wars and terrorist attacks. Different rates of fragmentation lead to different indices—conventional war is fought with robust armies that are unlikely to fragment, while terrorists are more likely to have shifting alliances.

Dr Spagat points out that, if their model is correct, it makes casualty data useful in a situation where intelligence about the enemy is hard to come by—as seems to be the case in Iraq at the moment. For instance, it should be possible to distinguish an insurgency with a rigid command structure from a group of smaller, randomly linked units. Learning about the distribution of earthquakes may not prevent the Big One, but for war and terrorism, power-law statistics may teach governments something about how to defeat the enemy, and make war less deadly


Blogger lewismh37okbrooks said...

='Brand New News From The Timber Industry!!'=

========Latest Profile==========
Energy & Asset Technology, Inc. (EGTY)
Current Price $0.15

Recognize this undiscovered gem which is poised to jump!!

Please read the following Announcement in its Entierty and
Consider the Possibilities�
Watch this One to Trade!

Because, EGTY has secured the global rights to market
genetically enhanced fast growing, hard-wood trees!

EGTY trading volume is beginning to surge with landslide Announcement.
The value of this Stock appears poised for growth! This one will not
remain on the ground floor for long.

KEEP READING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


-Energy and Asset Technology, Inc. (EGTY) owns a global license to market
the genetically enhanced Global Cedar growth trees, with plans to
REVOLUTIONIZE the forest-timber industry.

These newly enhanced Global Cedar trees require only 9-12 years of growth before they can
be harvested for lumber, whereas worldwide growth time for lumber is 30-50 years.

Other than growing at an astonishing rate, the Global Cedar has a number of other benefits.
Its natural elements make it resistant to termites, and the lack of oils and sap found in the wood
make it resistant to forest fire, ensuring higher returns on investments.

The wood is very lightweight and strong, lighter than Poplar and over twice
as strong as Balsa, which makes it great for construction. It also has
the unique ability to regrow itself from the stump, minimizing the land and
time to replant and develop new root systems.

Based on current resources and agreements, EGTY projects revenues of $140 Million
with an approximate profit margin of 40% for each 9-year cycle. With anticipated
growth, EGTY is expected to challenge Deltic Timber Corp. during its initial 9-year cycle.

Deltic Timber Corp. currently trades at over $38.00 a share with about $153 Million in revenues.
As the reputation and demand for the Global Cedar tree continues to grow around the world
EGTY believes additional multi-million dollar agreements will be forthcoming. The Global Cedar nursery has produced
about 100,000 infant plants and is developing a production growth target of 250,000 infant plants per month.

Energy and Asset Technology is currently in negotiations with land and business owners in New Zealand,
Greece and Malaysia regarding the purchase of their popular and profitable fast growing infant tree plants.
Inquiries from the governments of Brazil and Ecuador are also being evaluated.


The examples above show the Awesome, Earning Potential of little
known Companies That Explode onto Investor�s Radar Screens.
This stock will not be a Secret for long. Then You May Feel the Desire to Act Right
Now! And Please Watch This One Trade!!


All statements made are our express opinion only and should be treated as such.
We may own, take position and sell any securities mentioned at any time. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect
to predictions, goals, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are
not statements of historical fact and may be "forward, looking
statements." forward, looking statements are based on expectations, estimates
and projections at the time the statements are made that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results
or events to differ materially from those presently anticipated. This newsletter was paid $3,000 from third party (IR Marketing).
Forward, looking statements in this action may be identified through the use of words such as: "projects", "foresee", "expects". in compliance with Section 17. {b), we disclose the holding of EGTY shares prior to the publication of this report. Be aware of an inherent conflict of interest resulting from such holdings due to our intent to profit from the liquidation of these shares. Shares may be sold at any time, even after positive statements have been made regarding the above company. Since we own shares, there is an inherent conflict of interest in our statements and opinions. Readers of this publication are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward, looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions and expectations involving various risks and uncertainties that could cause results to
differ materially from those set forth in the forward- looking statements. This is not solicitation to buy or sell stocks, this text is
or informational purpose only and you should seek professional advice from registered financial advisor before you do anything related
with buying or selling stocks, penny stocks are very high risk and you can lose your entire investment.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Robert Shields said...

I often think of the Internet as the a wonderful oportunity to change one's career. The oportunities are countless and becoming an Internet Marketer can be very rewarding. Here is my story with your permission.

My name is Robert Shields and at the age of 69 years, I have been retired from full time work for four years.

I was, and still think of myself as, a Hypnotherapist. I trained literally hundreds of Hypnotherapists through my College before retirement and decided to go that one step further before I 'popped my glogs' (expired:).

So in order to help as many people as possible, I put what used to be my live course into an e-book to train others like my self.

The spin off to all this is that those whom I have trained number more than 1600 and about half of them are now in practice. This means that I am reaching thousands more people through them and hopefully, they are receiving the help they need.

I tell you all this because anyone can do what I have done. When you retire you take with you a wealth of knowledge that could, and should, be shared with others.

This is how mankind progresses.

If you would like to see what I mean, pop over to my web site at:


You may get inspired and just like me, your retirement will be a happy one.

8:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home