Jul 31, 2012
This report builds on earlier RAND research that used qualitative conceptual causal models called "factor trees" to identify the factors that contribute to aspects of terrorism or insurgency and how the factors relate to each other. This report goes beyond the qualitative by specifying a prototype computational social-science model of public support for terrorism and insurgency. The model illustrates designing for reusability and composition.
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This report builds on earlier RAND research (e.g., Understanding and Influencing Public Support for Insurgency and Terrorism, 2012) that reviewed and integrated social science relevant to terrorism and insurgency. That research used qualitative conceptual causal models called "factor trees" to identify the factors that contribute to various aspects of terrorism or insurgency at a slice in time and how the factors relate to each other qualitatively.
This report goes beyond the conceptual and qualitative by specifying a prototype uncertainty-sensitive computational model for one of the factor trees from the earlier research, one that describes public support for terrorism and insurgency. The authors first detail their approach to designing such a model, emphasizing the challenges they encountered in assigning mathematical meaning to the factor tree's numerous factors and subfactors, identifying suitable "building block" combining algorithms, and the uncertainty in their values and the relationships among them. They then describe how they implemented the model in a high-level visual-programming environment, show how the model can be used for exploratory analysis under uncertainty, and discuss their initial experience with it.
Methodologically, the work illustrates a new approach to causal, uncertainty-and-context-sensitive, social-science modeling. It also illustrates how such models can be reviewable, reusable, and potentially composable.
Specifying the Model
Implementation in a High-Level Language
Looking Ahead to Exploratory Analysis Under Uncertainty
Using the Model for Knowledge Elicitation, Discussion, and Diagnosis
Primer on Factor Trees (a reprint)
Verification and Validation
Eliciting Factor Values
Mathematics for "And" and "Or" Relationships