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Researchers Help Intelligence Community Improve Predictions of Global Crises

March 6, 2012

What if we had accurately predicted the events of September 11, 2001, or the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II? It’s a question often considered by the intelligence community as it works to predict and prevent the next global crisis. The accuracy of its predictions has the potential to save lives and even change the course of history.

To help improve the accuracy of these predictions, Mason is leading a multi-institution research team on a project called Decomposition-Based Aggregative. The team was awarded a $2.2 million contract from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity to participate in a nationwide research project called the Aggregative Contingent Estimation Program.

The project aims to improve the accuracy of intelligence analysts in predicting future events. Participants’ forecasts will help the researchers gain more knowledge about new methods that can be used for collecting and combining the opinions of many people to provide more accurate forecasts, as well as to improve the communication of these results.

“The goal [of the project] is to demonstrate the effectiveness of combining the knowledge of many individuals in a way that improves accuracy beyond what any one person or expert could provide,” says Charles Twardy, principal investigator on the project and research assistant professor in Mason’s Center for Command, Control, Communications, Computing, and Intelligence (C4I).

Participating universities and organizations are the Australian Center for Excellence and Risk Analysis at the University of Melbourne, James Madison University, Mercyhurst College, Defence Research and Development Canada at Toronto, nemoSibi Ltd, and KaDSCi LLC.

Mason’s C4I Center is the nation’s first and only civilian university-based entity offering a comprehensive academic and research program in military applications of information technology.

—Catherine Probst Ferraro

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