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Game theory can help in analyzing security challenges

Combining risk analysis with game theory are both needed in developing plans for counter-terrorism.
Professor Vicki Bier from University of Wisconsin-Madison addressed security challenges in the public lecture of Aalto Systems Forum on the 3rd of November. On the right Professor Ahti Salo, Director of the Systems Analysis Laboratory in Aalto University.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US lead in strong interest in methods for security and counter-terrorism. Yet, terrorism is not random in nature like earthquakes or other accidents which can be analysed with methods of conventional risk analysis. Protecting against intentional attacks calls for more advanced techniques.

Professor Vicki Bier argues that game theory can help here.

‘Security is a game between attackers and defenders. An intelligent opponent may adopt different strategies to get around or to disable protective security measures. When facing the threat of an intentional attack, it is important to model the behavior of the attacker,’ says Bier.

According to Bier, combining risk and reliability analysis with game theory can help defend complex systems against intentional attacks. As an expert on problems of security and counter-terrorism, Bier has built theoretical and methodological foundations for decisions regarding the allocation of defensive resources and provided decision support to the Department of Homeland Security in the US.

Professor Bier is the recipient of the 2016 Frank P. Ramsey Medal, which is a prestigious recognition for a life-time achievement in scientific work and the highest award of the Decision Analysis Society (DAS) of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). 

Managing complex wholes

The growing challenge today is the need to see and manage wholes, i.e., systems. Problems in technology, economy, organisations and the environment are highly interconnected. Typically, they also involve multiple criteria, are dynamic and evolve over time. The field of systems sciences develops tools and approaches to address such problems.

‘Decision and risk analysis call for expertise and knowledge from various fields. Besides methodological knowledge, we need knowledge from many other experts, including political scientists. This calls for active co-operation between universities, authorities and public agencies,’ tells professor Bier.

‘The Aalto Systems Forum serves to share the latest results in the field of systems sciences through public lectures held by leading international scholars,’ says professor Ahti Salo, Head of the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis in Aalto University.

‘Our educational programme in systems sciences is truly unique in Finland, and we produce excellent research which is of practical relevance,’ says Mr Salo.

The next Aalto Systems Forum lecture will be given by Professor Enrico Zio from the Energy Department of Politecnico di Milano. His lecture A Modern Vision of Risk Assessment for Modern Industry takes place on November 9, 2016 at 2pm at the Aalto University School of Science, Hall M1, Otakaari 1, Espoo.

The Aalto Systems Forum events are free and open to public.

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