Mathematicians in Support of Defense

By Georges Ulzberger, IBM France, mathematician and engineer Thierry Lorho, Gobe Expert’s designer, information scientist and engineer Guy Poulain, Rear-Admiral, director of IBM France Defense & Security Department Article first published in French, in the French Journal of National Defense (Revue de la Défense Nationale), May 2012 issue. Translation by Valerie Fert and Mariah Edson In mathematics, to predict or foresee means to identify a model. The mathematical ability to spot links and trends can lead to the development of solutions that are put to use in a wide range of applications. In particular, modeling has allowed the dramatic development of the understanding of complex physical phenomena, as well as chemical, biological, energetic, economic and human phenomena. All of our defense systems, and therefore their capacities, benefit from scientific progress, especially through modeling and simulation of complex phenomena. A Valuable Resource French excellence in mathematics is a result of the major contributions of prestigious mathematicians, from the first half of the 17th century to the present, including Laurent Schwartz, Alexandre Grothendieck, Jacques-Louis and Pierre-Louis Lions, Alain Connes, and more recently, Cedric Villani. Moreover, the Bourbaki Group, created in 1935, was composed of eminent French mathematicians who rethought and redefined mathematics and its bases. This group considerably influenced the evolution of mathematics all over the world during the 20th century. Since the establishment of the Fields Medal in 1923, eleven French mathematicians have been awarded, among them Cedric Villani, thereby elevating France to the second place after the United States. Other prestigious prizes recently awarded to French mathematicians have been the Abel prize to Jean-Pierre Serre, and the Gauss Prize, which Yves Meyer won for his Wavelet theory. Today, the frontier between basic and applied mathematics tends to narrow or, at least, the connections are much more numerous. To illustrate, the most abstract areas of mathematics (category theory, algebraic geometry, algebraic topology, theory of numbers) are used to solve complex issues in physics and chemistry. Again, French mathematics plays a leading role, for instance, in noncommutative geometry developed by Alain Connes, and Alexandre Grothendieck's algebraic geometry. Moreover, the developments of numerical analysis, driven by Jacques-Louis Lions, addressed many problems, notably for solving partial differential equations in physics regarding aeronautics. This know-how and significant progress, combined with modeling and simulations allowed by the HPC technologies (High Performance Computing) have applications in finance, energy, and medicine.


They contribute to meeting 21st century challenges, notably in the areas of nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, stress tests, information processing (data mining, artificial learning, semantic analysis, etc.), complex systems and systemic analysis, man/machine interface and interaction, social networks, neural networks, and so on. As one can see, the list is long and the applications numerous. Thus, we are currently witnessing the modeling and simulations of behavioral strategies of agents or players interacting with their environment. This kind of problem, which can be considered a part of the game theory with N players, when N is very big, has very concrete applications in the management of commodities, social networks, conflicts, the modeling of crowd movements, and economics. From Mathematics to Innovative Use The experience of Thierry Lorho, the designer of Artificial Intelligence system Globe Expert within International Focus, perfectly illustrates this perspective. Globe Expert was selected by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the framework of its prospective on the future geopolitical background of human expansion into outer space. This AI system also serves as a basis of analysis and simulation for the research program “Dynamics of Emotions and Fear in Conflicts and Reconstruction,” jointly carried out by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva) and Lausanne Technology Institute (Behavioral Genetics Laboratory). In the beginning, Globe Expert was designed for applications focused on the major changes of the 21st century: geopolitical and economic, environmental, scientific, technological, and societal. Here, modeling complexity and anticipating uncertainty are at stake by comprehending complex and sudden phenomena, which occur on the edge of reality and are also called “black swans” or “dragon kings.” Understanding Artificial Intelligence can seem difficult. Indeed, it involves multiple disciplines and, beyond expert eyes on particular topics, only the broad vision of a generalist, addressing the whole fields and establishing relations between them, is able to go to task. Artificial Intelligence is primarily and basically concerned with signals more than language and semantics. In order to design Globe Expert, the following processes and their combinations were needed: 1. Understanding information theory and the fundamental definition of entropy as given by Claude Shannon; 2. Building on thermodynamics and above all the second law, important to Boltzmann, which defines the entropy notion of a complex system; 3. Broadening this comprehension to the quantum theory of information and subtleties of states superposition, coherences and decoherences; 4. Further broadening this horizon to singular phenomena where information, in its most fundamental form, is at the heart of modern physics (disconcerting concept of multiverse, holographic universe, quantum theory of black holes and entropy limits of BekensteinHawking); 5. Focusing attention on quantum theories of decision and games, graph theory, complexity measure, distances calculation; 6. Mastering different models; environmental, neural, econometric and others (Lotka-Volterra equations, PSO, perceptrons, Hash model…); 7. Mastering the semantic issues, structures of language (Zipf-Mandelbrot law, multilingualism issues, global or structured approach of comprehension); 8. Addressing the human paradox in its infinite complexity in order to model it through a quantum approach of decision (for instance Allais or Ellsberg paradox). Globe Expert’s consistency is driven by its practical applications and its ability to replace the complicated visible by simple invisible. First of all, the fundamentals of information theory are practically applied. Then, a clusters’ system integrates information in analytical frameworks. This


integration is based on signals analysis and digramic Bayesian statistics. This step provides Globe Expert with a learning base, allowing it to analyze the signals, determine the basic structures and, consequently, the structure of information gathered together in those clusters. The second step consists in modeling the evolution of signal when an external event occurs. In this case, the event is a request, that is to say a question posed by the user. This question is submitted to the system and each of its clusters. One creates an initial signals’ interference, so to speak. This disturbance is in turn analyzed. Globe Expert measures the quantity of new information brought into the system by this interference. In much-simplified terms, this quantity of new information corresponds to entropy or, in other words, an increase of disorder. At this time, everything is in place for “playing” with Globe Expert, which has an adequate learning base and a set of new facts that disturbs its initial knowledge. Globe Expert generates its first cartographies of information in the form of maps of contact between the different clusters. The closer a cluster is to another and the more affinities are between them (that is to say, they have almost identical signals of communication), the more they react in a similar way to the disturbances. Playing with Globe Expert also means to ask this artificial intelligence to use all the elements at its disposal, and to make them evolve beyond the simple use of statistical tools. For thinking, an intelligence, either artificial or not, uses models; in other words, it simulates what might happen in some specific circumstances. Globe Expert can use different models such as neural or behavioral ones. For that matter, neuroscientists have known for a long time that human intelligence uses different models and has the ability to choose the most appropriate model for a given circumstance! The Benefit of Innovation for Defense and Security Capabilities All defense sectors are concerned. If all of them obviously benefit from the whole scientific, technological and industrial competencies, in this matter of innovation we will limit ourselves to the information domain and thus to the capabilities of “knowledge and anticipation,” which represents the first line of defense. A First Point to Be Noticed: The New Capacities of Computing Calculation Many announcements are made on supercomputers that will be operational this decade. The threshold of 10 petaflops, that is to say 10,000,000,000,000,000 (1015) operations per second has been crossed. On February 15th, 2012, the European Commission announced a plan aiming at reversing the relative decline of HPC (High Performance Computing) regarding its use and available capacities in the European Union. Under this plan, the European Union is to double its investments in HPC (from 630 million euros to 1.2 billion) and host computers capable to perform 1018 operations per second (“exa scale”) by 2020. Thanks to new architectures and energy progress, this increased capacity will affect not only the speed of calculation, but also a fast processing of large amounts of data. IBM supercomputer Watson illustrates a first achievement of this advance. It allows taking up the challenges of the information society because it is able to understand natural language1 and provide useful information by referring to a large bibliography in a matter of seconds. Second Point: Mastering Complex Systems Complexity stems, on one hand, from the constitution of a unique system by numerous elements or stand-alone software interacting in centralized or distributed architectures, and from the interconnections of several systems in order to create a system of systems on the other hand. The purpose of current developments is to propose new theories, methods and tools (mathematical as well as computer) in order to better understand, model, and design new mechanisms of resolution, selforganization and emergence in complex systems. In addition to the complexity particular to each

Natural Language: human language with all the complexities of senses according to the contexts, by opposition to the machine language which uses only one sense.


system, we currently face the building of outsourced networks, and getting back a multitude of data, elementary or structured, resulting from sensors or partners. The optimization rules of these systems in natural language allow new requirements to be taken into account, quickly correcting technical issues and integrating new applications or existent systems. This power of information, combined with the so-called services architecture, provides the user with a flexible organization of information system. Third Point: the Data Mining of Big Data The aim is to bring out “intelligence.” Mining into data deluge is an operation for which the interaction between mathematicians and computer scientists is paramount and has to be strong. Technology currently allows extracting relevant information according to new interpretation charts. Often described since the big data notion, it is in fact an assembly of systems which have capacities of search, in real or reflected time, into structured or unstructured data and according different deterministic, statistical or network models. As in life, the battle plans often meet the “friction of circumstances.” The current technology, unlike the past expert systems, allows replaying these models by starting from a specific contextual element. Thus, man, intuitive in his nature, has at his disposal today a smart toolbox. The rise of real time analytical and decision-making tools will be involved in all the information systems of defense and security professions. Intelligence, in a broad sense, will be the first beneficiary while working on numerous sources, opened or not. These three aspects illustrate the on-going advances of this decade and their impacts on the capabilities of decision and action. By enhancing their information strategy, and data’s governance and analytical techniques, the organizations are transforming their process of decision-making to better understand, foresee, plan, and thus act and optimize their professional performances. The overall idea ultimately is to be ever more interconnected, equipped, and knowledgeable, knowing that all efforts can be nullified by a security flaw. In short, intelligence, in all the senses of the word, is a major strategic stake and issue. All over the world, the number of researchers has doubled in fifteen years. Out of 8 million patents, only 1% will be profitable. Innovation is a form of progress that concerns everyone and focuses on intelligence. But intelligence is not only about creating something new but also discovering new uses. Collaborative attitudes and association of expertise are key to the future. This transdisciplinary approach in which mathematicians work with technologists and users is a guarantee for the future. Nevertheless, as Cedric Villani recently emphasized: “Twenty years are needed to train a researcher and another twenty years for training the tutor who will teach the researcher.” It is indeed toward this virtuous circle of research, innovative uses and economic reality that we have still to move forward.


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