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View Full Version : Seeking mathematical law of combat/war

js_africanus
03-23-2003, 08:40 PM
I recall reading about a fellow who sat down and modelled combat. He assumed that on each side an individual would have a given probability of killing someone on the other side, and that that probability was the same for all combatants. He then worked it out and came to a result about the power of a side (or something like that) and a law (?) that stated that the difference in the square of the number of troops will stay constant, or something to that effect. From there one could work out, for example, the relative benefits of training by changing the probability for one side, and so on.

I can't remember the name of the guy who did the work, and I haven't had much luck on google (though somebody else might--I'm not always the most clever searcher).

Can anybody tell me what and who I'm talking about, and perhaps give some references to where I could read about it. Internet references will be preferred--my library access in not spectacular--but any will be welcome.

Short
03-23-2003, 09:26 PM
You might be refering to Lanchester models, also called attrition models. The former name comes from Fredrick William Lanchester.

A readable discussion of these sorts of models can be found here (http://www.amath.washington.edu/courses/383-autumn-2001/lecture_05.pdf) (caution: PDF).

Mephisto
03-23-2003, 09:37 PM
Sounds kind of like the late Colonel Trevor Dupuy. This guy was a military officer and military historian who, among many other things, came up with the "Tactical Numerical Deterministic Model" for combat and warfare. I've never been a math person or military officer, so I'll leave it to others to say whether this guy was a genius or goofball--I get the impression that experts have put him into both categories. I will say that I read one of Dupuy's numerous books a few years ago and found it to be interesting, if a little strange--it was like a cross between a poli sci lecture, math text, and fantasy role playing game rule book. Stick Trevor Dupuy into a Google or Amazon.com search and you'll get quite a few hits--this guy wrote something like a thousand damn books.

I hope I was in some way helpful to you. Have a great night!

Peace.

Mephisto
03-23-2003, 09:50 PM
Unable to finish any entire PDF document :), I didn't read all of Short's link, but from the paragraphs I scanned it seems it contains something closer to what js_africanus had in mind. Still, Dupuy writes similar stuff and should, I think, be of interest to js_africanus. In fact, having read one of Dupuy's books, I'd be surprised if the guy hadn't written about the Lanchester Models himself.

js_africanus
03-24-2003, 12:43 AM
Yeah, that's it: Lanchester. Most excellent. The Dupuy link looks interesting, too. I'm sure I'll spend much time exploring it. Thanks again.

SenorBeef
03-24-2003, 05:11 AM
The Dupuy Institute (http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/).