The Large-Scale and Long-Term Dynamics of Terrorism and Civil Wars

Aaron Clauset 

Wednesdays@NICO Seminar, Noon, October 05 2011, Chambers Hall, Lower Level

Prof. Aaron Clauset, University of Colorado at Boulder


Terrorism and warfare are often assumed simultaneously senseless, contingent and highly strategic. Like earthquakes, these forms of mass human violence can be catastrophic and seem largely unpredictable. But earthquakes are successfully forecasted via good statistical methods and a careful understanding of the underlying geophysical processes. Is there any hope of similar success for terrorism and wars? In this talk, I explore several remarkably robust patterns in the statistics of global terrorism and civil wars worldwide, and identify underlying causal mechanisms. These patterns shed new light on the underlying dynamics of mass political violence and, if properly developed, may help us make principled and potentially accurate long-term forecasts of both global terrorism trends and civil war risks.


Aaron Clauset is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Fellow in the Colorado Initiative for Molecular Biotechnology. He holds a BS in Physics from Haverford College, a PhD in Computer Science from the University of New Mexico, and was an Omidyar Fellow at the prestigious Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on developing new and useful computational tools for analyzing and modeling complex social and biological systems. He is widely regarded as a leading expert in analyzing large social networks, in power-law distributions and in the statistical patterns of global terrorism. More information can be found at