M2D Projects

M2D Funded Projects

Title: Computational and Holistic Social Science for Understanding Conflict

PI: Prof Simon Maskell (University of Liverpool)

Co-I’s & Collaborators: Dr Frans Oliehoek (Computer Science), Dr Leona Vaughn (Sociology), Prof Richard Bentall (Psychology), Prof Erika Harris (Politics) (University of Liverpool) & Grace-Rose Williams (Defence & Security Analysis Division)

Project Overview: Government organisations related to defence and security (e.g., UK MoD) encounter pronounced uncertainty when making strategic decisions related to conflict. It is currently challenging for such organisations to make such decisions while fully exploiting the understanding developed by academics working across both (or either of) social and computational science. In response to this problem, this project’s focus is on building a model of conflict that can capture the understanding that exists in each of a number of social science disciplines and then performing computations with this model. Indeed, a workshop (associated with the University of Liverpool’s EPSRC/ESRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Risk and Uncertainty) in March 2017 co-organised with Dstl, brought together academics with backgrounds in Engineering, Computer Science, Maths, Psychology, Sociology and Politics. That workshop identified the expertise from a number of social science disciplines could be drawn together to produce a surprisingly simple, yet fully-testable, initial model. The aim of this pilot project is to: broaden the engagement (both in terms of academic disciplines and institutions); identify datasets that can be used to calibrate the model; assess the extent to which this model can be optimised successfully; provide the evidence that motivates a future proposal to test and extend the model, develop a decision support tool using the model and assess this tool in a meaningful way.