Statistical physics and modern human warfare

Alex Dixon, Zhenyuan Zhao, Juan Camilo Bohorquez, Russell Denney, Neil F Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Modern human conflicts, such as those ongoing in Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia, typically involve a large conventional force (e.g., a state army) fighting a relatively small insurgency having a loose internal structure. In this chapter, we adopt this qualitative picture in order to study the dynamics – and in particular the duration – of modern wars involving a loose insurgent force. We generalize a coalescence-fragmentation model from the statistical physics community in order to describe the insurgent population, and find that the resulting behavior is qualitatively different from conventional mass-action approaches. One of our main results is a counterintuitive relationship between an insurgent war’s duration and the asymmetry between the two opposing forces, a prediction which is borne out by empirical observation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationModeling and Simulation in Science, Engineering and Technology
PublisherSpringer Basel
Pages365-396
Number of pages32
Volume51
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Publication series

NameModeling and Simulation in Science, Engineering and Technology
Volume51
ISSN (Print)2164-3679
ISSN (Electronic)2164-3725

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Engineering(all)
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation

Cite this

Dixon, A., Zhao, Z., Bohorquez, J. C., Denney, R., & Johnson, N. F. (2010). Statistical physics and modern human warfare. In Modeling and Simulation in Science, Engineering and Technology (Vol. 51, pp. 365-396). (Modeling and Simulation in Science, Engineering and Technology; Vol. 51). Springer Basel. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-8176-4946-3_14