Scaling theory of armed-conflict avalanches

Edward D. Lee, Bryan C. Daniels, Christopher R. Myers, David C. Krakauer, Jessica C. Flack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Armed conflict data display features consistent with scaling and universal dynamics in both social and physical properties like fatalities and geographic extent. We propose a randomly branching armed conflict model to relate the multiple properties to one another. The model incorporates a fractal lattice on which conflict spreads, uniform dynamics driving conflict growth, and regional virulence that modulates local conflict intensity. The quantitative constraints on scaling and universal dynamics we use to develop our minimal model serve more generally as a set of constraints for other models for armed conflict dynamics. We show how this approach akin to thermodynamics imparts mechanistic intuition and unifies multiple conflict properties, giving insight into causation, prediction, and intervention timing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number042312
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 28 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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