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Defending Critical Infrastructure Systems



Dave Alderson,

Date and Time

May 14, 2012 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM May 11.


CISAC Central Conf 2nd FLREncina Hall Central, 2nd floor 616 Serra St. Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305

Sponsored by

The Preventive Defense Project and the

CISAC Science Seminar Series

Roughly 85% of the critical infrastructure systems in the United States is owned or operated by the private sector. Managers of these systems must keep everything running and try to ensure nothing bad happens, despite increasing system complexity and demand for continuing improvements in efficiency. This challenge naturally leads to the questions “which parts of an infrastructure are critical,” “how critical are they,” and “how should we invest limited budget to defend our infrastructure?”

We introduce two- and three-stage optimization models that represent the strategic, game-theoretic interactions between preparations to defend critical infrastructure, an “attacker” who observes these preparations before acting, and a “defender” who operates the surviving infrastructure as best as possible after an optimal attack. We identify worst-case disruptions in the operation of a system by solving a system interdiction problem. Then, given an available budget and list of possible defensive investments (e.g., hardening, redundancy, capacity expansion), we solve for a combination of investments that makes the system maximally resilient to worst-case disruption. We show some unexpected results that have proven insightful.

These models apply equally well to government, military, and commercial systems. Between our NPS student-officers and faculty, we have conducted over 150 case studies on systems ranging from electric power, to transportation, to supply chains, to the Internet.

About the speaker: David L. Alderson, Ph.D, joined the Naval Postgraduate School faculty in 2006 after working for three years as a postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He received a B.S.E. in Civil Engineering and Operations Research from Princeton University and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. His research focuses on the function and operation of critical infrastructures, with particular emphasis on how to invest limited resources to ensure efficient and resilient performance in the face of accidents, failures, natural disasters, or deliberate attacks. He currently serves as the Director of the NPS Center for Infrastructure Defense (CID). As part of a Multiple University Research Initiative (MURI) team studying "Next-Generation Network Science," he studies tradeoffs between efficiency, complexity, and fragility in a wide variety of public and private network-centric systems. He has extensive experience working on the Internet and other complex communication networks, having been a researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), and the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) at UCLA. He is a member of INFORMS and MORS.