Welcome to the LCCD

The Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics (LCCD) is a multidisciplinary research laboratory housed in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). The lab focuses on the development of algorithms to automatically track open source information related to terror groups, tribes, and socio-cultural-political entities, automated tools to learn models of the behaviors of such groups from both automatically gathered data and specialized hand-coded data, algorithms to support different kinds of behavioral analytics (including forecasting, what-if reasoning, policy formulation) and computational environments that allow human decision makers to leverage both their own expertise and the data and algorithms developed at LCCD to best support their mission.

In order to address this formidable task, LCCD consists of a mix of computer scientists, social scientists and policy makers associated with the University of Maryland, country or regional experts, as well as partners from a number of companies, government organizations and other institutions.

"Handbook of Computational Approaches to Counter-Terrorism"
LCCD Director V.S. Subrahmanian was the editor of the Handbook of Computational Approaches to Counter-Terrorism (Springer, Jan 2013).

LCCD Researchers Build the First Ever Behavioral Model of Indian Mujahideen

LCCD researchers build the first ever behavioral model of the terrorist group Indian Mujahideen in a book published by Springer (Nov 2013). IM is a major terrorist threat to India. Predictions about IM attacks made in Sep 2013 for the fourth quarter of 2013 based on these behavioral models have already turned out to be true. More details here.

LCCD Researchers Complete the Most Detailed Study Ever of Lashkar-e-Taiba

LCCD researchers have developed the first comprehensive computational analysis of any terrorist group. Using over 20 years of data about over 770 variables about the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), LCCD researchers learned the first models of the behavior of LeT, together with developing principled suggestions for generating policy to mitigate their behavior. The results are described in the book "Computational Analysis of Terror Groups: Lashkar-e-Taiba" to be published by Springer in late August 2012.

Learn more about the book here.

Recent News

Hindustan Times features LCCD work on Indian Mujahideen
Jan 21, 2014
The Hindustan Times featured LCCD’s Aaron Mannes and V.S. Subrahmanian’s work in an article titled "IM Likely to Attack Before May: Computer Scientist".
Deccan Herald Publishes an interview with V.S. Subrahmanian
Jan 21, 2014
The Deccan Herald published an interview about the Indian Mujahideen with V.S. Subrahmanian titled "We can predict the time frame of terror attacks: expert".
LCCD's Prof. Dana Nau's Work on Third Party Punishment
Dec 11, 2013
LCCD researcher Dana Nau's work on "High strength-of-ties and low mobility enable the evolution of third-party punishment," suggests that the stronger a community's social ties and the longer most people stay within the community, the more likely it is that otherwise uninvolved third parties will step forward to punish their neighbors. This work will appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. See http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/evolution-third-party-punishers-phenomenon.
LCCD's Prof. Dana Nau has been elected a Fellow of the ACM
Dec 10, 2013
LCCD's Prof. Dana Nau has been elected a Fellow of the ACM for contributions to automated search and planning. The relevant ACM news release can be found here.
LCCD's Aaron Mannes and V.S. Subrahmanian, along with Animesh Roul and R.K. Raghavan, published the op-ed "Penetrating the Web of Terror" in The Hindu
Nov 2, 2013
LCCD's Aaron Mannes and V.S. Subrahmanian, along with Animesh Roul and R.K. Raghavan, published the op-ed "Penetrating the Web of Terror" in The Hindu, Nov 2, 2013, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/penetrating-the-web-of-terror-networks/article5305816.ece
LCCD’s STONE system featured in The Guardian (London) and The Observer
Sep 14, 2013
LCCD Director V.S. Subrahmanian wrote an op-ed on the STONE system to predict the successor of a leader of a terrorist group. Online edition of The Guardian newspaper (London) . See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/15/al-qaida-terrorist-leader
WJLA TV (affiliate of ABC) features LCCD’s STONE system
Sep 8, 2013
LCCD researchers Aaron Mannes and V.S. Subrahmanian’s work on the STONE system was featured in the WJLA TV show Government Matters. The video clip shows the STONE system in action and discussed how it may be used. http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/09/government-matters-sept-8-2013-93684.html (fast forward to 2:35 minutes to see the part on STONE).
LCCD’s Research on Indian Mujahideen featured in the Indian Express
Sep 5, 2013
LCCD researchers Aaron Mannes and V.S. Subrahmanian, along with former Central Bureau of Investigation (India) Director R.K. Raghavan and researcher Animesh Roul discuss the capture of Indian Mujahideen leader Yasin Bhatkal in an op-ed in the Indian Express.
Fast Company features LCCD’s STONE system
Aug 28, 2013
Fast Company featured a piece titled “How Computers Can Predict the Next Leader of Hezbollah” describing the STONE framework. http://www.fastcompany.com/3016525/fast-feed/how-computers-can-predict-the-next-leader-of-hezbollah.
Federal Computer Week features LCCD’s STONE system
Aug 27,2013
Federal Computer Weekly (FCW – August 27, 2013) featured a piece titled “Who’s the next head of Hezbollah? New platform has some predictions”, describing LCCD’s work on the STONE system to reshape terrorist networks. http://fcw.com/articles/2013/08/27/stone-predictive-analytics.aspx
Homeland Security Today features LCCD’s STONE system
Aug 26, 2013
Homeland Security Today featured a piece titled “New Analytic Tool Could Predict Leadership Changes in Terrorist, Criminal Networks”, describing LCCD’s work on the STONE system to reshape terrorist networks. http://www.hstoday.us/single-article/new-analytic-tool-could-predict-leadership-changes-in-terrorist-criminal-networks/9c9d1dcd58fd9ad99567bac129bb829a.html
V.S. Subrahmanian quoted in The Economist
Mar 30, 2013
V.S. Subrahmanian was quoted in the print edition of The Economist in an article titled "The Digital Arms Trade," which investigates black markets used to trade computational exploits and hacking tools between criminal organizations. The full article can be read here.
V.S. Subrahmanian speaks at the Aspen Institute
Jan 9, 2013
V.S. Subrahmanian spoke at the Aspen Institute in New Delhi on Jan 9, 2013. He spoke on "Using IT to Fight Terrorism and Improve Security". A YouTube video of the talk is available here.
Recent invited talks by V.S. Subrahmanian
Nov. 2012–Feb. 2013
  • AAAI Fall Symposium meeting on Social Networks and Social Contagion in Arlington VA, Nov. 2012
  • Computer Society of India Annual Convention in Kolkata, Dec. 2012. Talk title: "Intelligent Infrastructure: International Security and Beyond"
  • Dutch Police Symposium in The Hague, Dec. 2012. Talk title: "Knowledge and Models"
  • India Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Conference in Mysore, Feb 2013.
New book from LCCD featured in The Baltimore Sun
Sept. 21, 2012
The Baltimore Sun features the lab's recent research work on Lashkar-e-Taiba in an article titled "UM Researchers Mine Data to Uncover Terrorist Threats". Results discussed in the book were summarized in the article, which can be found here.
Rediff.com interviews V.S. Subrahmanian
Sept. 21, 2012
Indian news source Rediff.com features LCCD's recent work on Lashkar-e-Taiba in an article titled "We can now predict future Lashkar attacks", found here.
LCCD's analysis of Lashkar-e-Taiba featured by Express.be
Sept. 20, 2012
Express.be from Belgium features LCCD's recent work on Lashkar-e-Taiba in an article (in Flemish) titled "Een computerprogramma dat terroristische aanslagen voorspelt" on Sept. 20, 2012. The original article can be found here.
Fast Company covers new LCCD book
Sept. 15, 2012
Fast Company publishes an article entitled "A Computer Program that Predicts Terrorist Attacks" that discusses results in the book "Computational Analysis of Terrorist Groups: Lashkar-e-Taiba". The article can be found here.
Subrahmanian Quoted in Mother Jones
July 30, 2012
A recent article in the non-profit news outlet Mother Jones discusses recent advances in data-driven techniques for the computational modeling of and prediction of events in war zones. The article includes comments by LCCD director V.S. Subrahmanian. The full article can be viewed here.
The Economist discusses LCCD anti-terror work
April 21, 2012
The print edition of The Economist discusses ongoing research on reasoning about terror groups by V.S. Subrahmanian and the LCCD. The Temporal-Probabilistic Rule System automatically learns predictive rules from large sets of social and political indicators and uses these rules to make policy recommendations. The article can be found online here, and the Temporal-Probabilistic Rule System is discussed in the section titled "Guerrillas in the midst."
SCARE featured in The Economist
April 21, 2012
Ongoing research by Major Paulo Shakarian (USMA, LCCD) and V.S. Subrahmanian (LCCD) is featured prominently in the print edition of The Economist. The SCARE system automatically determines the location of IED weapons caches in conflict zones. SCARE's project page with related publications can be viewed here. The article can also be found online here.
Geospatial Abduction: Principles and Practice published by LCCD researchers
November 18, 2011
CPT Paulo Shakarian and Prof. V.S. Subrahmanian's book, Geospatial Abduction: Principles and Practice, was published by Springer New York. The book introduces the concept of geospatial abduction problems, a technology that can be used to help identify the locations of IED weapons caches in Baghdad, Iraq, and high value targets (HVTs) in Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan (see more at the SCARE project page). The book extends the concept of geospatial abduction in many ways and provides real-world examples of its use. The book can be purchased from Springer here.
Multiple LCCD Techniques featured in Economic Times
September 25, 2011
Two recent articles in The Economic Times discuss how the Indian government is beginning to use formal techniques like game theory and other computational tools to analyze "messy" social conflicts. The articles feature recent work by LCCD that uses game theory to analyze the situation between Pakistan and India (see the project page here), and also highlight LCCD's SCARE software that automatically determines the location of IED weapons caches in conflict zones. SCARE's project page and related publications can be viewed here. Both articles can be found on The Economic Times' website here and here.
LCCD's analysis of LeT featured on the front page of The Telegraph
September 12, 2011
LCCD's work by John Dickerson, Aaron Mannes, and V.S. Subrahmanian was featured in a front page article of India's The Telegraph (story here). The article discusses game-theoretic results, published in a recent paper, regarding interactions between Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan, India, and the United States. The lab's project website (with links to current and upcoming publications) can be found here.
Analysis of Lashkar-e-Taiba featured in Economic Times and Business Standard
July 17, 2011
LCCD's work by Aaron Mannes, John Dickerson, and V.S. Subrahmanian was described in the online versions of The Economic Times (link) and The Business Standard (link). Both articles discuss recent advances made by the lab using game-theoretic methods to model and forecase the behavior of terrorist groups, spcefically Lashkar-e-Taiba and Indian Mujahideen in the Indo-Pakistani region. A press release from UMD can be viewed here, and the lab's page (with links to upcoming publications) can be found here.
LCCD's Aaron Mannes on Fox News
May 4, 2011
LCCD member Aaron Mannes was interviewed by FoxFive DC on May 4, where he discussed the impact of the information captured from Osama bin Laden's hideout and the state of cyber-forensics. The show can be viewed in full on FoxFive's website here.
LCCD's Aaron Mannes on The Marc Steiner Show
May 2, 2011
On May 2nd, following the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, LCCD member Aaron Mannes was featured as a discussant on The Marc Steiner Show. The show touched on topics ranging from politics in Pakistan to the future of al-Qaeda, and can be heard in full here.
MSNBC.com's CosmicLog features LCCD's SCARE-S2
April 5, 2011
MSNBC.Com's CosmicLog features SCARE-S2 technology developed by LCCD researchers to find high value targets in Afghanistan and Iraq. View the report here, and more information about SCARE-S2 here.
LCCD's SCARE Software Featured in Nature
March 31, 2011
LCCD's work by Paulo Shakarian, Maria-Luisa Sapino and V.S. Subrahmanian was described in the journal Nature. The article Social Science: Web of War features LCCD's Spatial-Cultural Abductive Reasoning Engine (SCARE) as a prominent example of how the government is augmenting its data-mining approach to national security with social-computational science. SCARE uses a combination of cultural and logistical constraints alongside real-world data to accurately predict the locations of arms caches in Baghdad, Iraq. The full article can be viewed on the Nature website here, or in print at: Nature 471, pp. 566-568.
LCCD's Rennie Silva on Al Jazeera
September 24, 2010
On September 1, as President Obama and Secretary Clinton prepared to commence the latest round of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington, LCCD Researcher Rennie Silva participated in a panel discussion featuring American perspectives on the Middle East peace process broadcast by Al Jazeera English. The segment can be viewed at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_nWEMdjdFs
The Economist Discusses LCCD's Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents
September 4, 2010
Our work on Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agent (SOMA) technology was described briefly in an article in The Economist (online: Sept. 2, 2010, print: Sept. 4, 2010). A small correction to the article: SOMA does not track 200 sources, but LCCD's related T-REX and ACE (link) programs jointly do so. The article is located here.
Security versus Privacy
August 26, 2010
V.S. Subrahmanian was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in a story titled "Security vs. Privacy" about security related discussions between Blackberry and various governments worldwide that aired on August 26, 2008. The story can be found here (video link).
The Wall Street Journal: Keeping Tabs on Terrorism
August 22, 2010
The Wall Street Journal included an op-ed article by V.S. Subrahmanian and Aaron Mannes on "Keeping Tabs on Terrorism" that builds around the recent dispute between Research in Motion (the makers of Blackberry) and India on providing access to Blackberry devices for the Indian government to keep tabs on terrorism.
Mathematics and Social Science Help Hunt Terrorists
August 2010
National Defense Magazine has featured work on COSI and its potential use for counter-terror activities in an article titled "Social Scientists and Mathematicians Join the Hunt for Terrorists." COSI, an active LCCD project, is a social network subgraph matching tool with the ability to handle complex queries against billion-node social networks. The article can be found here.
ScienceNews Features LCCD's Work on SOMA Models
July 17, 2010
ScienceNews featured a detailed discussion of LCCD's work on SOMA models of the behaviors of terror groups as well as our work on geospatial abduction (see SCARE project). The article, titled "Safety in Numbers: Mathematics offers innovative weapons for fighting terrorism," can be found here.
Mining Social Networks for Clues
July 9, 2010
SIGNAL Magazine featured our work on the COSI system on indexing and querying huge social networks consisting of 778M edges (and higher since the article's publication).
A New Algorithm for Analyzing Social Networks
June 30, 2010
Abril.com (Brazil) featured our work on the COSI system indexing and querying huge social networks.
DefenseNews: Info Systems Must Connect Dots on Terrorism
April 19, 2010
DefenseNews runs an article co-written by LCCD terrorism expert Aaron Mannes with Dr. Jim Hendler about the need for the intelligence community to embrace cutting edge information technology that can help analysts process the enormous quantities of information collected and connect the dots.
McClatchy Company Discusses Virtual Worlds, Quotes V.S. Subrahmanian
March 29, 2010
McClatchy Newspapers quotes LCCD Director V.S. Subrahmanian in an article discussing wide-reaching research in virtual worlds and games, among other research topics.
Washington Examiner highlights work on IED detection
January 31, 2010
The Washington Examiner ran an article on the Spatio-Cultural Abductive Reasoning Engine (SCARE), work done by LCCD researchers Captain Paulo Shakarian and V.S. Subrahmanian. The engine uses abductive reasoning to locate IED caches in Iraq.
Baltimore Sun features LCCD's work on IED Cache Detection
December 29, 2009
The Baltimore Sun ran an article on the work by LCCD researchers Paulo Shakarian and V.S. Subrahmanian on their SCARE system that uses abductive reasoning to locate IED (improvised explosive device) caches in Iraq. (Minor clarification: The sentences "Certainly it could be used to model the behaviors of large institutional investors," he said. "We could use it to model the behaviors of political organizations." in the second last paragraph of the article did not apply to the SCARE effort, but to the SOMA effort going on in the lab.)
Popular Science Covers SCARE
December 11, 2009
Popular Science publishes a piece on the Spatio-Cultural Abductive Reasoning Engine (SCARE), work done by LCCD members Paulo Shakarian and V.S. Subrahmanian and Professor Maria-Luisa Sapino of the University of Torino, Italy. SCARE uses IED attack data to predict the locations of supporting weapons caches run by insurgents. The full article can be found on Popular Science's site.
What Can Virtual Worlds and Games Do for National Security?
November 26, 2009
Science publishes a paper by LCCD researchers V.S.Subrahmanian and John Dickerson on how virtual worlds together with behavioral models of terror groups can help improve national security. An abstract is available here, but you need a subscription to Science to see the whole article.
LCCD Work on Virtual Worlds and National Security Featured by Scientific American
November 26, 2009
Scientific American.com publishes an article on the work by LCCD researchers V.S. Subrahmanian and John Dickerson on virtual worlds and national security issues. You can see the entire article on ScientificAmerican.com. If you'd like to read other takes on this work, see this Science Daily article, or coverage by Daily India and Austria's Der Standard.
LCCD in Foreign Policy Magazine
November 16, 2009
Foreign Policy Magazine publishes an article by LCCD researchers Aaron Mannes and V.S. Subrahmanian on why Hezbollah has been quiet during the first half of 2009. The article explains how Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents provide insight into Hezbollah's activities. The article can be found here.
SOMA Featured on Primetime Television
October 23, 2009
LCCD's work on Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents (SOMA) was featured on the October 23rd episode of the popular television crime drama Numb3rs (episode title "Hydra"). The show directly references SOMA and uses SOMA-like techniques to solve the kidnapping of a young girl. Videos here and here.
LCCD's Analysis of why Hamas has been Quiet featured by the Jewish Policy Center
September 15, 2009
An article by LCCD's Aaron Mannes and V.S. Subrahmanian explaining why Hamas has been quiet in 2009 was featured on the Jewish Policy Center web page. See the whole article at Jewish Policy Center.
In the past, our work has been featured in the Washington Post (1, 2), Science (1, 2), New Scientist (1), Scientific American (1), Information Week (1), Foreign Policy (1), and the Wall Street Journal (1, 2), among others.
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Copyright © 2009 University of Maryland
Contact: Dr. V.S. Subrahmanian, Director