On the mathematics of war

By pulling raw data from the news and plotting it onto a graph, Sean Gourley and his team have come up with a stunning conclusion about the nature of modern war – and perhaps a model for resolving conflicts.

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Conflict Background


By analyzing raw data on violent incidents in the Iraq war and others, Sean Gourley and his team claim to have found a surprisingly strong mathematical relationship linking the fatality and frequency of attacks.

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Sean Gourley, trained as a physicist, has turned his scientific mind to analyzing data about a messier topic: modern war and conflict.

Sean Gourley’s twin passions are physics (working on nanoscale blue-light lasers and self-assembled quantum nanowires) and politics (he once ran for a national elected office back home in New Zealand).

A Rhodes scholar, he’s spent the past five years working at Oxford on complex adaptive systems and collective intelligent systems — basically, using data to understand the nature of human conflict. As he puts it, “This research has taken me all over the world from the Pentagon, to the House of Lords, the United Nations and most recently to Iraq”. Originally from New Zealand, he now lives in San Francisco, where he is the co-founder and CTO of Quid which is building a global intelligence platform. He’s a 2009 TED Fellow.

In December 2009, Gourley and his team’s research was published in the scientific journal Nature. He is co-founder and CTO of Quid.

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What are the principles of conflict transformation?



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