IE Seminar: Games and Risk Analysis: Four cases involving Management and National Security

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TITLE: Games and Risk Analysis: Four cases involving Management and National Security

SPEAKER: Dr Elisabeth Pate-Cornell


A presentation of four models of risk and decision analyses involving games, designed to support strategic decisions. The first is a single-move game, in which the US faces risks of terrorist attacks by several possible groups. The result is a probabilistic ranking of the threat posed by different types of weapons.  The second is a dynamic counter-terrorism analysis designed to compare the stabilizing effects of different short- and long-term government strategies. It is based on the simulation of an alternate game between a government and a terrorist group. The third is a dynamic evaluation of US nuclear counter-proliferation strategies for a single country. It involves an analysis of the weapon development program given the country's evolving intent and capabilities, and the effectiveness of different US strategies to prevent or delay its success.  The fourth is a principal-agent model of the development of an engineered system, in which an agent in charge of part of the project may consider meeting a deadline by cutting corners if he falls behind schedule. This generally increases the system failure probability and the goal is to support the decisions of the manager in setting constraints and incentives to decrease the total costs. These four cases are based on systems analysis and probability but present a spectrum of models, assumptions and results.


Dr. M. Elisabeth Paté-Cornell was born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1948. Her undergraduate degree is in mathematics and physics (BS, Marseilles, France, 1968), and her first graduate degrees are in applied mathematics and computer science (MS and Engineer Degree, Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble, France, 1970; 1971).  She received a Masters degree in Operations Research (OR) in 1972 and a Ph.D. in Engineering-Economic Systems (EES) in 1978, both from Stanford University.  She joined the Stanford faculty in 1981, and serves as Chair (since 1997) of the now Department of Management Science and Engineering.  In 1999, she was named the Burt and Deedee McMurtry Professor in the School of Engineering, and she is also a Senior Fellow (by courtesy) of the Stanford Institute for International Studies.

Dr. Paté-Cornell was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995, and is currently a member of its Council. She has served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from December 2001 to December 2004.  Dr. Paté-Cornell is a world leader in research related to engineering risk analysis, risk management, decision analysis under uncertainty, and more generally, the use of Bayesian probability to process incomplete information. In recent years, her research and that of her Engineering Risk Research Group at Stanford have focused on the inclusion of both technical and organizational factors in probabilistic risk analysis models. These models have been applied to a wide variety of topics, ranging from the risk management of the NASA shuttle tiles to that of offshore oil platforms and medical systems such as anesthesia during surgery. She is currently working on risk management processes for complex projects and programs, with application to space, industrial and medical systems. Since 2001, she has applied risk analytic methods to the study of different types of terrorist attacks on the United States, the assessment of intelligence information and the effectiveness of counter measures.

Dr. Paté-Cornell is the author or co-author of more than a hundred papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings. She has received several best-paper awards from professional organizations such as the American Nuclear Society and the Decision Analysis Society of INFORMS (for her work on the shuttle tiles), and peer-reviewed journals such as Military Operations Research in 2002 for a paper on the assessment of terrorist threats.


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