Causal Models and Exploratory Analysis in Heterogeneous Information Fusion for Detecting Potential Terrorists

by Paul K. Davis, David Manheim, Walter L. Perry, John S. Hollywood

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.7 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

We describe research fusing heterogeneous information in an effort eventually to detect terrorists, reduce false alarms, and exonerate those falsely identified. The specific research is more humble, using synthetic data and first versions of fusion methods. Both the information and the fusion methods are subject to deep uncertainty. The information may also be fragmentary, indirect, soft, conflicting, and even deceptive. We developed a research prototype of an analyst-centric fusion platform. This uses (1) causal computational models rooted in social science to relate observable information about individuals to an estimate of the threat that the individual poses and (2) a battery of different methods to fuse across information reports. We account for uncertainties about the causal model, the information, and the fusion methods. We address structural and parametric uncertainties, including uncertainties about the uncertainties, at different levels of detail. We use a combination of (1) probabilistic and parametric methods, (2) alternative models, and (3) alternative fusion methods that include nonlinear algebraic combination, Bayesian inference, and an entropy-maximizing approach. This paper focuses primarily on dealing with deep uncertainty in multiple dimensions.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Top-Level Analytical Architecture

  • Chapter Three

    Representing Heterogeneous Information

  • Chapter Four

    Causal Social-Science Models in Counterterrorism

  • Chapter Five

    A Mixed-Methods Battery of Fusion Methods

  • Chapter Six


  • Chapter Seven

    Designing and Implementing a Platform for Exploratory Analysis

  • Chapter Eight

    Illustrative Results and Conclusions

This paper is based on prior research sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.