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Home > News > PTI

Scientists develop model to predict ethnic violence

September 14, 2007 21:12 IST

Scientists have claimed to have developed a mathematical model which can predict the likelihood of ethnic violence in a region by analysing its ethnic census data.

Scientists from New England [Images] Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), who developed the model, said it could help end conflicts.

The model, whose predictions were checked by researchers by using data from India and the former Yugoslavia, both of which have suffered ethnic violence, said the model could be used anywhere.

"With many factors involved in cultural and ethnic conflict, a model that helps to pinpoint the most critical factors can help to bring bloodshed to an end by allowing us to make interventions that actually work," Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of NECSI said.
"Science can help by providing a clearer understanding of the impact of policy decisions," he said. Ethnic violence claims millions of lives around the world every year.

"Violence normally occurs when a group is large enough to impose cultural norms on public spaces, but not large enough to prevent those norms from being broken," said May Lim, a researcher on the study at the University of the Philippines.
"Usually this occurs in places where boundaries between ethnic or cultural groups are unclear."

The model identifies "islands" or "peninsulas" of one population at the characteristic size surrounded by another population as likely areas of violence because boundaries at these sites are unclear. The study suggests that violence can be avoided by identifying these areas and clarifying boundaries before fighting begins.

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