Second International Conference on Computational Cultural Dynamics

Conference Program

September 15, 2008

08:00-08:50         Registration / Continental Breakfast

08:50-09:00         Welcome, V.S. Subrahmanian

09:00-10:00         Keynote Address - John Salerno, US Air Force Research Lab:

                               “Social Modeling: It’s About Time”

10:00-10:30         Corey Lofdahl, BAE Systems: “Synthesizing Information for Senior Policy Makers

                             using Simulation: Working an EBO problem with system dynamics”

10:30-11:00         Coffee Break

11:00-11:30         Aaron Mannes, Mary Michael, Amy Pate, Amy Sliva, V.S. Subrahmanian, and

                             Jonathan Wilkenfeld: “Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents: A Case Study

                             with Hamas”

11:30-12:00         Rebecca Grier, Bruce Skarin, Alexander Lubyansky, and Lawrence Wolpert:

                              “SCIPR: A Computational  Model to Simulate Cultural Identities for Predicting

                             Reactions to Events”

12:00-12:30         Myriam Abramson, US Naval Research Lab:  ”Coalition Formation of Cognitive


12:30-13:30         Lunch

13:30-14:30         Invited lecture - Roy Lindelauf, Netherlands National Defense Academy:

                              “On the Optimal Distribution of Risk and Information Exchange in Star Networks”

14:30-15:00         Nitin Agarwal, Huan Liu, John Salerno, and Sanjay Sundarajan: “Understanding

                             Group Interaction in Blogosphere: A Case Study”

15:00-15:30         Coffee break

15:30-16:30         Invited lecture - Dana Nau, University of Maryland

16:30-17:00         Ronald  Yager: “Adversarial Modeling Using Granular Computing”

17:00-17:30         Colleen Phillips, John Crosscope, and Norman Geddes: “Bayesian Modeling using

                             Belief Nets of Perceived Threat Levels Affected by Strategemical Behavior Patterns”


September 16, 2008

08:00-09:00         Continental Breakfast

09:00-10:00         Keynote lecture - Rohan Gunaratna, Nanyang Technical University:

                             “Radicalizing the Next Wave: Al-Qaeda’s Spider Web” 

10:00-10:30         Kurt Rohloff and Victor Asal: “The Identification of Sequential Patterns Preceding

                             the Occurrence of Political Events of Interest”

10:30-11:00         John Dickerson, Maria Vanina Martinez, Diego Reforgiato, and V.S. Subrahmanian:

           “CIG: Cultural Island and Games”

11:00-11:30         Shuyuan Mary Ho: “A Framework of Coordinated Defense”

11:30-12:00         Shade Shutters and Bethany Cutts: “A Simulation Model of Cultural Consensus

                             and Persistent Conflict”

12:00-13:00         Lunch

13:00-14:00         Invited talk - Amy Sliva, University of Maryland: “Predicting changes in terror

                             group behaviors”

14:00-14:30         Ryan Carr, Eric Raboin, Austin Parker, and Dana Nau: ”When Innovation Matters:

                             An Analysis of Innovation in a Social Learning Game”

14:30-15:00         David L. Sallach: “Culture, Networks and Actors:  Social Theory and Model Design”

15:00-15:30         Coffee Break

15:30-17:00         Panel Discussion: "Next Steps in Computational Cultural Modeling" with
                             Mark Hoffman, Lockheed Martin; Lucy Resnyanski, DSTO-Austrailia; Ron
                             Keesing, SAIC; and V.S. Subrahmanian, University of Maryland."



Keynote Speakers

  • John Salerno, US Air Force Rome Labs
  • Roy Lindelauf, Netherlands National Defense Academy
  • Rohn Gunaratna, Nanyang Technological University (author of “Inside Al Qaeda”)
  • Amy Sliva, University of Maryland
  • Dana Nau, University of Maryland


Talk Abstracts and Speaker Bios


Social Modeling – It’s about time” by John Salerno


“Winning the hearts and minds” of the people has always been a key strategy of any military operation.  But how successful have past military endeavors been in achieving this strategy? Or, have they simply contained people through a show of force?  An example that we quickly forget dates back to 1775 when there was a great military force; well trained and believed to be invincible.  But contrary to all beliefs they were defeated.  Not by a greater force but by one with a greater will.  There have been many wars fought before that time, and many since, but to this day we still do not fully understand this ever so powerful force.  For it is people that we are at war, not critical infrastructure, not resources or money, and yet we have done little in the way of understanding what is important to people, their values and how they interact with others.  This understanding is becoming even more crucial as we move from force on force operations to asymmetric and from nation-state building to humanitarian relief.  In this talk I will attempt to motivate the need for inclusion of research in what and how people think and act in various situations, thus providing our nation with a strategy that is militarily more economical (less casualties, no fratricide, less troop deployments, etc.) and politically more viable (no wholesale destruction of nations, rule of law, etc.)


Short Bio:


John Salerno has performed research as part of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for the past 29 years where he has been involved in many diverse activities.  His current responsibilities include Problem Lead for HQ AFRL Focus Long Term Challenges (FLTC), Predicting Adversary Behaviors and technical lead for two major initiatives: the National Operational Environment Model (a holistic regional/national level model) and the Continuous Predictive Battlespace (model of the adversary).  Dr. Salerno began his career in AFRL’s Communications Division where he led a number of research efforts in both voice and data communications networks.  In 1989, he moved from the Communications Division to the Intelligence and Exploitation Division.  Since then he has been involved in research in distributed heterogeneous data access architectures, web interfaces, and in the further definition and implementation of information fusion to various application areas.  He has designed, built and fielded a number of operational systems for the Intelligence Community.  John holds two US patents and has over 50 publications.  He was awarded a PhD from Binghamton University (Computer Science), a MSEE from Syracuse University, BA’s (Mathematics and Physics) from SUNY at Potsdam and an AAS (Mathematics) from Mohawk Valley Community College. In 2005, Dr. Salerno became an AFRL Fellow.




Radicalizing the Next Wave: al Qaeda’s Spider Web” by Rohan Gunaratna


Al Qaeda is a multinational organization with a global vision and a mission. In the guise of fighting for the faith and the faithful, al Qaeda’s greatest strength is in its ability and willingness to reach out to the global Muslim community. The key strength of al-Qaeda has been the ability of its leadership to understand both the importance of and the power of modern communication. Although puritanical in its beliefs, to advance its aims and objectives, al Qaeda uses the Internet, computers and other modern tools much more effectively than governments.


After al Qaeda retreated from Afghanistan to tribal Pakistan in early 2002, al-Qaeda has invested more in information operations rather than kinetic operations. al Qaeda’s Information Committee has become the most active of the key committees. After relocated to tribal Pakistan had the al Qaeda leadership not done so, Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri would have been forgotten by the rest of the world. After its training and operational infrastructure was dismantled in Afghanistan, al Qaeda remained relevant only by periodically communicating to the outside world. The head of al-Qaeda’s Information Committee, Muhammad Abaytah alias Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi, is the son-in-law of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy leader of al Qaeda. Born and raised in Morocco, Abd al-Rahman left to study software programming in the German city of Cologne in 1996. After qualifying as a computer engineer, Abd al-Rahman left for Afghanistan in 1999, where he trained at the al-Faruq camp near Kandahar


Despite being the world’s most hunted terrorist group, al Qaeda is able to wage an inter-generational fight because of its extensive use of modern communication especially the Internet. After its training camps were dismantled in Afghanistan, al Qaeda placed its ideological and operational content on the Internet. As a force multiplier, the Internet has enabled al Qaeda to communicate effectively to a cross section of society - the old and young, men and women, educated and the illiterate, rich and poor. In addition to facilitating communication with the group and its networks, the al Qaeda spider web brings graphic scenes of battles, spectacular and bloody bombings, periodic pronouncements and repetitive messaging, including explicit threats are brought to life. This paper will discuss the increasing use of the Internet by al Qaeda and propose measures to contain its influence in the cyber domain.


Short Bio:


Rohan Gunaratna is Head, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Singapore and Senior Fellow, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy's Jebsen Centre for Counter-Terrorism Studies, Boston. He also holds several honorary appointments including as Senior Fellow, National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, Oklahoma; Member of the Advisory Council, Institute for Counter Terrorism, Israel; and Member, Steering Committee, George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute. 


He holds a Masters in International Peace Studies from the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, U.S., where he was Hesburgh Scholar and a doctorate in International Relations from the University of St Andrews where he worked under Professor Bruce Hoffman on a three year British Chevening Scholarship. 


Gunaratna is the author of 12 books including “Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror,” published by Columbia University Press, an international bestseller. His latest book published in November 2006 entitled ‘Countering Terrorism: Can We Meet the Threat of Global Violence?’ was co-authored with Michael Chandler, former Chairman of the UN Taliban and Al-Qaeda Monitoring Group. He also serves on the editorial boards of "Studies in Conflict and Terrorism" and "Terrorism and Political Violence," the leading counter-terrorism academic journals.


Gunaratna has over 25 years of academic, policy, and operational experience in counter terrorism. He led the specialist team that designed and built the UN database on the mobility, weapons and finance of Al Qaeda, Taliban and their Entities.   Invited to testify before the 9-11 Commission, he debriefed detainees in Asia and the Middle East including in Iraq. A litigation consultant to the United States Justice Department, he served as the U.S. expert in the Jose Padilla trial.



This conference is sponsored by the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and the Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics (LCCD).