Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Systems Modeling and Analysis

First Advisor

Dr. Jason Merrick


Our main objective is to improve decision making in counterterrorism applications by implementing expected utility for prescriptive decision making and prospect theory for descriptive modeling. The areas that we aim to improve are behavioral modeling of adversaries with multi objectives in counterterrorism applications and incorporating risk attitudes of decision makers to risk matrices in assessing risk within an adversarial counterterrorism framework. Traditionally, counterterrorism applications have been approached on a single attribute basis. We utilize a multi-attribute prospect theory approach to more realistically model the attacker’s behavior, while using expected utility theory to prescribe the appropriate actions to the defender. We evaluate our approach by considering an attacker with multiple objectives who wishes to smuggle radioactive material into the United States and a defender who has the option to implement a screening process to hinder the attacker. Next, we consider the use of risk matrices (a method widely used for assessing risk given a consequence and a probability pairing of a potential threat) in an adversarial framework – modeling an attacker and defender risk matrix using utility theory and linking the matrices with the Luce model. A shortcoming with modeling the attacker and the defender risk matrix using utility theory is utility theory’s failure to account for the decision makers’ deviation from rational behavior as seen in experimental literature. We consider an adversarial risk matrix framework that models the attacker risk matrix using prospect theory to overcome this shortcoming, while using expected utility theory to prescribe actions to the defender.


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