Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Social network analysis of the Iranian nuclear weapons program

Australian National University, where Graham Durant-Law, chief scientist of HyperEdge Pty Ltd, speaking on "Social network analysis as an intelligence technique". Graham started by relating how he did network analysis on paper decades ago in Rwanda, to track the spread of the Ebola virus. He then did a quick introduction to Network Analysis. With this a directed network is created representing how individuals are related to each other. A common finding Graham mentioned was that analysis of who talks to who often finds that there are key individuals in an organization who don't hold high positions in the official hierarchy.

Graham then described an analysis of the relationship between Iranian nuclear scientists, using publications data from Google Scholar. The real world importance of such analysis was illustrated by Graham pointing out that some of the people identified have been assassinated by other nations security agencies. He pointed out that the analysis needs to clearly identify what the nodes are (people or scientific papers) and what sample size is available.

The slides for Graham's talk "Social Network Analysis as an Intelligence Technique: the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program Revisited" are available on-line. Graham emphasized that this analysis was carried out only for educational purposes But he would like to talk to the ANAO).
One interesting example Graham mentioned for use of this technique is to work out who deals with policy in government agencies. Robert Ackland, from the ANU Australian Demographic & Social Research Institute mentioned that software for these techniques is installed on the standard ANU computers for use by the students. The talk was sponsored by the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO):

Social network analysis as an intelligence technique - the Iranian nuclear weapons program revisited.

Network analysis has its origins in graph theory which can be traced to Leonhard Euler’s solution of the Konigsberg bridges problem in 1736. Simplistically, graph theory is a mathematical discipline that examines the relationships between a set of entities referred to as vertices or nodes. These nodes are connected by edges, more commonly known as links. Network analysis builds on graph theory by allocating attribute data to the nodes and relationship data to the links. These are then visualised as ‘maps’ and analysed. The method has primarily been used in theoretical physics and mathematics, but more recently has been applied to academic investigations in the social sciences, and practically into fields like medicine and terrorism studies. This presentation uses these techniques to show how intelligence analysts can use readily available open-source information to map the networks of people of interest.

Graham Durant-Law CSC is the owner, founder, and chief scientist of HyperEdge Pty Ltd. He is an expert in network analysis and an acknowledged thought leader in knowledge management, acting as one of the international adjudicators for the Singapore Knowledge Management Excellence Awards. He holds numerous academic qualifications and has won prizes for academic achievement, as well as awards for innovation and practice.

AIPIO is the peak representative body for all intelligence professionals. For further information about AIPIO please visit our website: http://www.aipio.asn.au/

No comments: