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Rensselaer, Army Research Targets Terror Nets

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RPI supercomputers

Rensselaer's supercomputer has been enlisted by the U.S. Army to model how terrorists are recruited over social networks.

Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center is enlisting engineers and scientists to uncover the signatures of global terror networks. The 10-year, $35 million project will create a virtual network using thousands of software agents that simulate adversarial users interacting with ordinary citizens. The goal is to understand how terrorists are recruited through global networks.

"We want to attach electrodes to our subjects and observe the physical effects while they are having these cognitive interactions over the network in order to identify the signature of how this trust is built," says Rensselaer professor Boleslaw Szymanski.

The simulations will be run on Blue Gene supercomputers, Power-based Linux clusters, and AMD Opteron processor-based clusters that provide 70 teraflops of computing power. The simulations also will model dynamic processes, organizational networks, game theory, and how a scientific understanding of human cognition facilitates an understanding of the process that turns ordinary citizens into terrorists.

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