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Scientists ­se Math--and Computer War Games--to Show How Society Evolved

Actors Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick in the movie 'War Games.'

Researchers using mathematical formulas and computer simulations they developed to learn how complex societies evolved have concluded that increasingly intense armed combat and the spread of military technology facilitated the rise of complex societies.


University of Connecticut researchers developed mathematical formulas and computer simulations to discover how complex societies evolved. They concluded that an increase in the intensity of armed combat, as well as the spread of military technology, facilitated the rise of large, complex societies.

The researchers hypothesized that a key mechanism in the formation of ancient empires was the use of horses by nomadic steppe dwellers to attack agricultural communities. The researchers tested this hypothesis by creating an elaborate mathematical war game that divided the ancient world into squares of 60 square miles each. The squares were given numerical values to designate their elevation, as well as to distinguish between agricultural lands and desert. Additionally, historical records were consulted for the simulation of population groups.

The simulation was designed to replicate the period of history between 1500 BC and AD 1500. After comparing their model results with the growth and density of actual empires during that time period, the warfare model was 65-percent accurate.

"The model developed here does well at predicting the broad outlines of where and when such societies have traditionally formed and persisted," according to the researchers.

From Los Angeles Times
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