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    Software spawns solutions

    Electrical and computer engineering department head Jerzy Rozenblit is leading a team whose goal is to implement computer algorithms to predict and avoid potential conflicts in time, of war and social unrest.
    Electrical and computer engineering department head Jerzy Rozenblit is leading a team whose goal is to implement computer algorithms to predict and avoid potential conflicts in time, of war and social unrest.

    Science and Technology

    A UA professor and a team that includes six UA students have received a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Army to perfect a computer system that will function as a “”digital mediator”” in conflict situations.

    Using complex algorithms derived from millions of pieces of historical data, the Asymmetric Threat Response and Analysis Project, also known as ATRAP, makes predictions to avoid potential conflicts and can be used in times of war or social unrest, said Jerzy Rozenblit, who heads the electrical and computer engineering department and leads the project.

    Much like playing a game of chess, ATRAP attempts to analyze links and patterns of the past to make predictions on the outcome of the future, Rozenblit said.

    That analogy, however, can only extend so far.

    “”In chess, you know the board and the types of moves available,”” he said, “”but there is no rationality to how adversaries might act. The types of conflict that we are in are unpredictable.””

    Although ATRAP could be most beneficial to military personnel in predicting the actions of terrorists and criminal groups, the technology could also be applied to conflicts outside of war.

    “”In areas where there might be ethnic tensions, or conflicts because of religious or social issues, the algorithm attempts to analyze the variety of those tensions and the levels of animosity and then takes those factors into account to say, ‘What is the best action to keep everyone happy?’ “” Rozenblit said.

    From there, the solutions of the algorithms are given to whoever is in charge of governing the area or individuals in conflict, presenting a win-win situation for everyone, he said.

    “”This makes for a very nice extension to conflict situations,”” he said. “”Economic, political or social.””

    The technology, which has been in development for several years, could be implemented into the workings of military personnel, at least in a test phase, by December 2008, Rozenblit said.

    Ultimately, ATRAP will display data in graphical and 3-D format, making it easier to interpret.

    Similarly, ATRAP currently uses large software, but the goal is to make it fast and small enough to house in a personal digital assistant, or PDA, format deployable by many computers, he said.

    “”We use very powerful machines, but the smarter and more efficient the algorithms are, the smaller the platform,”” he said.

    The software has other potential uses.

    It could analyze past diseases to predict and counterbalance “”nasty strains”” that could arise in the future.

    “”For conventional diseases, we know how colds spread,”” said Rozenblit, who is also a surgery professor. “”With nasty strains of viruses – SARS, for example – if you know there’s early indication and predictive software, you can be better prepared.””

    Rozenblit and his team have been working extensively with Fort Huachuca doing theoretical work that uses analogy of evolution for many years, a practice that has often incorporated new UA graduates.

    Rozenblit hopes ATRAP could eventually create an environment of stability for both parties involved in a conflict.

    “”It is in our interest to create a course of action, with steps, to agree with ultimate satisfaction,”” he said.

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