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Journal Article

Modeling the Size of Wars: From Billiard Balls to Sandpiles

Lars-Erik Cederman
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 97, No. 1 (Feb., 2003), pp. 135-150
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3118226
Page Count: 16
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Modeling the Size of Wars: From Billiard Balls to Sandpiles
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Abstract

Richardson's finding that the severity of interstate wars is power law distributed belongs to the most striking empirical regularities in world politics. This is a regularity in search of a theory. Drawing on the principles of self-organized criticality, I propose an agent-based model of war and state formation that exhibits power-law regularities. The computational findings suggest that the scale-free behavior depends on a process of technological change that leads to contextually dependent, stochastic decisions to wage war.

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