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Towards a Science of Security Games: Key Algorithmic Principles, Deployed Applications and Research Challenges

Milind Tambe ( University of Southern California )

Security is a critical concern around the world, whether it is the challenge of protecting ports, airports and other critical infrastructure, interdicting the illegal flow of drugs, weapons and money, protecting endangered species, forests and fisheries, suppressing crime in urban areas or security in cyberspace. Unfortunately, limited security resources prevent full security coverage at all times. Instead, these limited security resources must be allocated and scheduled efficiently, simultaneously taking into account an adversary's response to the security coverage (e.g., an adversary can exploit predictability in security allocation), the adversary's preferences and the potential uncertainty over such preferences and capabilities.

To help in efficient and randomized security resource allocation, for the past few years we have used computational game theory to build decision-aids for security agencies around the world. These decision aids have been deployed for security of ports and ferry traffic with the US coast guard (in the ports of New York, Boston, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Houston and others), deployed for security of airports and air traffic with the Federal Air Marshals (FAMS) and the Los Angeles World Airport (LAX) police, evaluated for security of metro trains with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) and the TSA, and undergoing testing for protection of fisheries with the US Coast Guard and protection of wildlife at sites overseas and for other applications. These applications are leading to real-world use-inspired research in the emerging area of “security games”: from new algorithms for scaling up security games, to handling significant adversarial uncertainty, to dealing with bounded rationality of human adversaries and other interdisciplinary challenges. I will provide an overview of my research's group's work in this area.

(*) This is joint work with a number of former and current PHD students, postdocs, and other collaborators, all listed at: 

http://teamcore.usc.edu/security

Speaker bio

Milind Tambe is Helen N. and Emmett H. Jones Professor in Engineering at the University of Southern California(USC). He is a fellow of AAAI and ACM, as well as recipient of the ACM/SIGART Autonomous Agents Research Award, Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Homeland security award, the INFORMS Wagner prize for excellence in Operations Research practice, the Rist Prize of the Military Operations Research Society, IBM Faculty Award, Okawa foundation faculty research award, RoboCup scientific challenge award, USC Associates award for creativity in research and USC Viterbi School of Engineering use-inspired research award. Prof. Tambe has contributed several foundational papers in agents and multiagent systems; this includes areas of multiagent teamwork, distributed constraint optimization (DCOP) and security games. For this research, he has received the "influential paper award" from the International Foundation for Agents and Multiagent Systems(IFAAMAS), as well as with his research group, best paper awards at a number of premier Artificial Intelligence Conferences and workshops; these have included multiple best paper awards at the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems and International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents. In addition, the ''security games'' framework and algorithms pioneered by Prof. Tambe and his research group are now deployed for real-world use by several agencies including the US Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration, LAX Police and other agencies for security scheduling at a variety of US ports, airports and transportation infrastructure. This research has led to him and his students receiving the US Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation from the Commandant, US Coast Guard First District's Operational Excellence Award, Certificate of Appreciation from the US Federal Air Marshals Service and special commendation given from the city of Los Angeles. For his teaching and service, Prof. Tambe has received the USC Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring award and the ACM recognition of service award. Recently, he co-founded ARMORWAY, a company focused on risk mitigation and security resource optimization, where he serves on the board of directors. Prof. Tambe received his Ph.D. from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

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