Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple mathematical formula describes human struggles

Date:
December 12, 2013
Source:
University of Miami
Summary:
The world seems to be getting more complex every day -- some might say too complex. But what if every interaction, every potential conflict we have is really very simple and easy to understand? Mathematicians have found a mathematical formula demonstrating just that: the dynamics of every escalating conflict human beings find themselves in, from children who won't stop crying to international terrorism, can be explained rather easily.

The manner in which a baby's cries escalate against its parent is comparable to the way riots in Poland escalated in the lead-up to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Credit: erllre / Fotolia

Would you believe that a broad range of human struggles can be understood by using a mathematical formula? From child-parent struggles to cyber-attacks and civil unrest, they can all be explained with a simple mathematical expression called a "power-law."

In a sort of unified theory of human conflict, scientists have found a way to mathematically describe the severity and timing of human confrontations that affect us personally and as a society.

For example, the manner in which a baby's cries escalate against its parent is comparable to the way riots in Poland escalated in the lead-up to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It comes down to the fact that the perpetrator in both cases (e.g. baby, rioters) adapts quickly enough to escalate its attacks against the larger, but more sluggish entity (e.g. parent, government), who is unable, or unwilling, to respond quickly enough to satisfy the perpetrator, according to a new study published in Nature's Scientific Reports.

"By picking out a specific baby (and parent), and studying what actions of the parent make the child escalate or de-escalate its cries, we can understand better how to counteract cyber-attacks against a particular sector of U.S. cyber infrastructure, or how an outbreak of civil unrest in a given location (e.g. Syria) will play out, following particular government interventions," says Neil Johnson, professor of physics and the head of the interdisciplinary research group in Complexity, at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami (UM) and corresponding author of the study.

Respectively, the study finds some remarkable similarities between seemingly disconnected confrontations. For instance:

  • The escalation of violent attacks in Magdalena, Colombia -- though completely cut off from the rest of the world -- is actually representative of all modern wars. Meanwhile, the conflict in Sierra Leone, Africa, has exactly the same dynamics as the narco-guerilla war in Antioquia, Colombia.
  • The pattern of attacks by predatory traders against General Electric (GE) stock is equivalent to the pattern of cyber-attacks against the U.S. hi-tech electronics sector by foreign groups, which in turn mimics specific infants and parents.
  • New insight into the controversial 'Bloody Sunday' attack by the British security forces, against civilians, on January 30,1972, reveals that Bloody Sunday appears to be the culmination of escalating Provisional Irish Republican Army attacks, not their trigger, hence raising new questions about its strategic importance.

The findings show that this mathematical formula of the form AB-C is a valuable tool that can be applied to make quantitative predictions concerning future attacks in a given confrontation. It can also be used to create an intervention strategy against the perpetrators and, more broadly, as a quantitative starting point for cross-disciplinary theorizing about human aggression, at the individual and group level, in both real and online worlds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Neil F. Johnson, Pablo Medina, Guannan Zhao, Daniel S. Messinger, John Horgan, Paul Gill, Juan Camilo Bohorquez, Whitney Mattson, Devon Gangi, Hong Qi, Pedro Manrique, Nicolas Velasquez, Ana Morgenstern, Elvira Restrepo, Nicholas Johnson, Michael Spagat, Roberto Zarama. Simple mathematical law benchmarks human confrontations. Scientific Reports, 2013; 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep03463

Cite This Page:

University of Miami. "Simple mathematical formula describes human struggles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212185906.htm>.
University of Miami. (2013, December 12). Simple mathematical formula describes human struggles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212185906.htm
University of Miami. "Simple mathematical formula describes human struggles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212185906.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins