Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Numbers Dude news (1)

QJM and hot COWs of war

No posts recently because I am working on a number of projects, eventually to be revealed here, in the vein of "ask a stupid question (...get a stupid answer)". I've also been struggling with formatting on Blogger and finding it difficult to get things to look the way I want. All of this is a bit time consuming on top of the day job and family!

Well, there is some news and its about numbers. I've been working on a "stupid question" about artillery in the first world war (1914 to be precise). In doing some basic comparisons I have decided to use a version of the HERO QJM (quantified judgement model). While this model can be problematic, it is actually quite useful for comparing weapons within the same weapon category (e.g. artillery) and within the same period (timeframe).

Background information about the QJM and the latest version (TNDM) is at Dupuy Institute. A simplified version for wargaming is discussed at Alternate Wars.

One thing about the QJM is that the owners (the Dupuy Institute) have quite rightly kept a close grip on their data so it is rare to see large chunks of the data in a public forum. I was therefore very surprised to find, during a literature search, a very complete data set for land and air weapons from around 1950 to 1990-ish. This appears as an annex to a monograph prepared for the US Army School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth by Major D R Hogg. See Correlation of Forces: The Quest for a Standardised Model available through the Defence Technical Information Centre (DTIC) at DTIC. They also have a really interesting range of other papers on correlation of forces which I'm working through at the moment. However, if anyone knows of a publicly available WW2 QJM data set, then please let me know!

I have also recently read a book (honest), Military power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle by Stephen Biddle (Princeton University Press, 2004). this is an interesting book which ploughs a similar furrow to the QJM but from a different perspective. What was very interesting is that it uses an academic dataset to explore correlation of forces. The dataset originated with the Michigan State University and is publicly available. The "Correlates of War" (CoW) database holds peer reviewed data on the national and non-national combatants in wars over history. Its objective is to "facilitate the collection, dissemination, and use of accurate and reliable quantitative data in international relations". It allows exploration of the correlation of factors with such things as propensity for war but also success in war fighting. One interesting fact is that success in war correlates highly with the number of pigs in a country!

What this means is that the time I have recently spent looking at population and GDP/GNP data for 1914 combatants was pretty much unnecessary. Check out the database (sorry, I think that should be dataverse!) at CoW. Happy reading numbers dudes!

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