Aaron B. Frank

Aaron B. Frank
Senior Information Scientist; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School


Ph.D. in computational social science, George Mason University; M.A. in national security studies, Georgetown University; B.A. in political science, Boston University


Aaron Frank (he/him) is a senior information scientist at RAND. He is also a professor of policy analysis at Pardee RAND Graduate School.

He specializes in the development of analytic tradecraft and decision-support tools for analyzing complex national security issues. He is interested in problems associated with uncertainty, the philosophy of science, decisionmaking, and the ways in which models mediate between data and theory to understand individual choices and collective action. He has employed agent-based models, game theory, wargames, case studies, and other quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze problems ranging from regional conflicts between national governments, to military innovation and transformation, to the dynamics of social identities.

His projects have generally focused on two challenges, each of which seek to bring computation closer to national security decision-making. One area is in the field of Computational Social Science, where his work explores the development and application of social science theories, models, and simulations to support national security decisionmaking. The second area is focused on assessing the quality, completeness, and analytic usability of data held within enterprise information technology systems, and developing long-term visions for how data, analytics, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can create improve business processes.

His most recent projects have focused on developing a portfolio of advanced research investment for long-term competition in Undergoverned Spaces, emphasizing how to improve the adaptive capacity of the national security enterprise, applications of AI to wargaming and intelligence collection, analysis, and production, and developing new classes of analytic tools focused on model development and exploitation to enhance the resilience and robustness of policies.

Selected Publications

Mouton, Christopher A., Elizabeth M. Bartels, Aaron B. Frank, John P. Godges, and Adam R. Grissom, An Enterprise Cost-Effectiveness Approach to Decisionmaking: Improving Analytic Support to Senior Defense Leaders, RAND Corporation (RR-A1425-1), 2022

Frank, Aaron B., Marek N. Posard, Todd C. Helmus, Krystyna Marcinek, Justin Grana, Omair Khan, and Rushil Zutshi, An Exploratory Examination of Agent-Based Modeling for the Study of Social Movements, RAND Corporation (RR-A1646-1), 2022

Authors: Aaron B. Frank, Elizabeth M. Bartels, Adam R. Grissom, Jonathan S. Blake, Gabrielle Tarini, Kelly Eusebi, Joseph N. Mait, Elisa Jayne Bienenstock, Andrew M. Parker, Steven W. Popper, Paul K. Davis, Edward Geist, Ben Connable, Zev Winkelman, Rober The RAND Corporation, Adaptive Engagement for Undergoverned Spaces: Concepts, Challenges, and Prospects for New Approaches, RAND Corporation (RR-A1275-1), 2022

Wong, Yuna Huh, John Yurchak, Robert W. Button, Aaron B. Frank, Burgess Laird, Osonde A. Osoba, Randall Steeb, Benjamin N. Harris, and Sebastian Joon Bae, Deterrence in the Age of Thinking Machines, RAND Corporation (RR-2797-RC), 2020

Connable, Ben, Michael J. McNerney, William Marcellino, Aaron B. Frank, Henry Hargrove, Marek N. Posard, S. Rebecca Zimmerman, Natasha Lander, Jasen J. Castillo, James Sladden, Anika Binnendijk, Elizabeth M. Bartels, Abby Doll, Rachel Tecott, Benjamin J. Fernandes, Niklas Helwig, Giacomo Persi Paoli, Krystyna Marcinek, and Paul Cornish, Will to Fight: Returning to the Human Fundamentals of War, RAND Corporation (RB-10040-A), 2019

McNerney, Michael J., Ben Connable, S. Rebecca Zimmerman, Natasha Lander, Marek N. Posard, Jasen J. Castillo, Dan Madden, Ilana Blum, Aaron B. Frank, Benjamin J. Fernandes, In Hyo Seol, Christopher Paul, and Andrew Parasiliti, National Will to Fight: Why Some States Keep Fighting and Others Don't, RAND Corporation (RR-2477-A), 2018

Connable, Ben, Michael J. McNerney, William Marcellino, Aaron B. Frank, Henry Hargrove, Marek N. Posard, S. Rebecca Zimmerman, Natasha Lander, Jasen J. Castillo, and James Sladden, Will to Fight: Analyzing, Modeling, and Simulating the Will to Fight of Military Units, RAND Corporation (RR-2341-A), 2018

Aaron Frank, "Computational social science and intelligence analysis," Intelligence and National Security, 32(5), 2017