July 11, 2016

Computational Security Studies

The domain of international security is best understood in terms of its growing complexity. The research of international security is best constructed with tools that address this complexity and therefore a diversity of disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological approaches. Security in a complex, adaptive, and increasingly globalized and interdependent world demands collaboration and innovation. For these reasons, we propose the following term of art and new domain as foundational for the future of research in international security—Computational Security Studies.


It is well-known that security threats range from atomic, biological, and chemical attacks to the devastation of drought; from terror attacks to full scale civil-wars; from economic devastation to cyber warfare; to name but a few. What are not as clear are the linkages between these types of security threats. How does drought impact civil and international conflicts? To what degree are looming conflicts likely to be about natural resources like water, food, and energy? Why do some insurgencies become full-scale civil wars while others are easily defeated or continue as low-grade insurgencies for decades? What do ideologies of resistance from Latin America to the Middle East to Southeast Asia have in common?


These questions and many other related questions require inter disciplinary approaches, because they involve history, politics, economics, computer science, anthropology, physics, chemistry, biology, etc. To bring all these various disciplinary and methodological approaches together, and to bring to bear the immense amounts of data available, computational methods such as data mining, natural language processing, semantic and social network analysis, geographical information systems, and agent-based modeling and simulation become critical tools in the understanding and consequent resolution of international security problems. It is already well understood in the practice of international security that technology brings an indisputable advantage on the tactical level. Academics, analysts, and strategists, who operate on a higher and broader level of strategic international security and with longer time horizons need new tools based on the best data and best of breed computational tools to grapple with this increasing complexity—thus, Computational Security Studies.