Research from Bolek Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, and Gyorgy Korniss, professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy, was highlighted as a success story by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) of the U.S. Department of Defense.
DTRA commended work by Szymanski and Korniss on the challenging problem of providing military decision-makers with better information to predict and assess the consequences of military operations, toward the goal of reducing unintended collateral damage.
Szymanski, director of the Network Science and Technology Center (NeST), and Korniss helped address this problem by developing new techniques to show the effect of an anticipated system outage as it cascades through large-scale infrastructure networks such as communications, supervisory control and data acquisition systems, and power generation and distribution systems.
One of their conclusions is that hardening individual components of such networks indiscriminately can actually lead to an overall decrease in the resilience of the network, as a result of higher order cascade, or domino, effects. This work also provides insights for efficient and cost-effective ways to protect networks again the effects of weapons of mass destruction.
DTRA said this new capability allows commanders to make informed decisions that minimize collateral damage and expedite recovery operations outside the immediate incident area, thereby reducing negative impact on the local or regional population.
Below is a simulated attack on a network; Cascading damage extends far beyond initial event location.