Decision Analysis

The Decision Analysis research area of CREATE is concerned with the use of rigorous models to help make sound decisions in homeland security applications. 

Topics in this area include:

  • The appropriate representation of preferences and trade-offs using multiattribute value and utility models
  • The appropriate representation of risk attitudes 
  • Modeling adversary beliefs and preferences
  • The representation of belief using joint probability distributions, and the updating of belief using Bayes’ rule
  • Group decision making
  • Framing decision situations
  • Alternative generation
  • The identification (and minimization) of the effects of cognitive biases 
  • Implementing a decision culture within an enterprise

Game Theory is also applied in Decision Analysis to capture the objectives and beliefs of adaptive adversaries threating critical infrastructure around the world, including seaports, airports, wildlife/forests/fisheries, and high-crime urban areas. In many of these cases, limited security resources prevent full security coverage at all times. Instead, these limited resources must be allocated and scheduled efficiently, avoiding predictability, while simultaneously accounting for an adversary's response to the security coverage, the adversary's preferences, and potential uncertainty over such preferences and capabilities. Computational game theory can help construct decision-aids for such efficient security resource allocation. Indeed, casting the security allocation problem as a Stackelberg Security Game, we have developed new algorithms that have been deployed over multiple years in multiple applications


Detlof von Winterfeldt

Detlof von Winterfeldt is a Professor at the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering of the Viterbi School of Engineering and a Professor of Public Policy...

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Richard John

Dr. Richard John serves as the Associate Director for Research at CREATE, professor in the Department of Psychology at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at USC… 

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Vicki Bier

Vicki Bier is a risk analyst and decision analyst specializing in probabilistic risk analysis for homeland security and critical infrastructure protection. Her current research interests include…

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Williams Burns

William Burns completed his Ph.D. at the University of Oregon in Decision Science and subsequently held positions as a professor at the University of Iowa and UC Davis …

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Sam Chatterjee

Samrat Chatterjee is an Operations Research Scientist with the National Security Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). His research focuses on assessing…

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Robin Dillon-Merrill

Robin Dillon-Merrill is a Professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and Area Coordinator for the Operations and Information Management Group… 

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Gilberto Montibeller

Gilberto Montibeller is a professor of Management Science at Loughborough University, and the Acting Associate Dean for Enterprise at the School of Business and Economics.  

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Heather Rosoff

Heather Rosoff's research focuses on using risk and decision analytic techniques to study the uncertainties surrounding terrorism. More specifically, her risk perception…

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Milind Tambe

Milind Tambe is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Research in Computation and Society (CRCS) at Harvard University…

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Sample Papers

  • Siebert, J. & von Winterfeldt, D. (2020). Comparative Analysis of Terrorists’ Objectives, Decision Analysis, February 2020,
  • von Winterfeldt, D., Farrow, S., John, R., Eyer, J., Rose, A., & Rosoff, H. (2020). Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Homeland Security Research: A Risk-Informed Methodology with Applications to the U.S. Coast Guard. Risk Analysis, 40(3), 450-475. doi: 10.1111/risa.13403 
  • Kusumastuti, S., Rosoff, H., & John, R. S. (2019). Characterizing conflicting user values for cyber authentication using a virtual public values forum. Decision Analysis, 16(3), 157-171. doi: 10.1287/deca.2018.
  • Cui,J., Nguyen, T., Pita, J., &  John, R. S. (2017). Methods for addressing the unpredictable real-world element in security. In A. Abbas, M. Tambe, & D. von Winterfeldt (Eds.), Improving homeland security decisions (pp. 574-603). Cambridge University Press.  
  • Rosoff, H. & John, R. S. (2017). Decision analysis by proxy for the adaptive adversary. In A. Abbas, M. Tambe, & D. von Winterfeldt (Eds.), Improving homeland security decisions (pp. 709-729). Cambridge University Press.
  • Cui, J., Rosoff, H., & John, R. S. (2017). Deterrence of cyber attackers in a three-player behavioral game. In S. Rass, B. An, C. Kiekintveld, F. Fang, & S. Schauer (Eds.), Decision and game theory for security: GameSec 2017 (pp. 718-736). New York: Springer.  
  • Nguyen, K., Rosoff, H., & John, R. S. (2017). Valuing equal protection in aviation security screening. Risk Analysis, 37(12), 2405-2419. doi: 10.1111/risa.12814
  • Garcia, R. & von Winterfeldt, D. (2016) Defender-attacker decision tree analysis to counter terrorism.  Risk Analysis, 36(8), 1-14.