GUARDS : Game-theoretic Unpredictable and Randomly Deployed Security

GUARDS Team with TSA Representatives
GUARDS Team with TSA Representatives


  Current Team

Gratefully acknowledge support of:

Abstract from the "GUARDS - Game Theoretic Security Allocation on a National Scale" paper

Building on research previously reported at AAMAS conferences, this paper describes an innovative application of a novel gametheoretic approach for a national scale security deployment. Working with the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA), we have developed a new application called GUARDS to assist in resource allocation tasks for airport protection at over 400 United States airports. In contrast with previous efforts such as ARMOR and IRIS, which focused on one-off tailored applications and one security activity (e.g. canine patrol or checkpoints) per application, GUARDS faces three key issues: (i) reasoning about hundreds of heterogeneous security activities; (ii) reasoning over diverse potential threats; (iii) developing a system designed for hundreds of end-users. Since a national deployment precludes tailoring to specific airports, our key ideas are: (i) creating a new game-theoretic framework that allows for heterogeneous defender activities and compact modeling of a large number of threats; (ii) developing an efficient solution technique based on general purpose Stackelberg game solvers; (iii) taking a partially centralized approach for knowledge acquisition and development of the system. In doing so we develop a software scheduling assistant, GUARDS, designed to reason over two agents — the TSA and a potential adversary — and allocate the TSA’s limited resources across hundreds of security activities in order to provide protection within airports.

The scheduling assistant has been delivered to the TSA and is currently under evaluation and testing for scheduling practices at an undisclosed airport. If successful, the TSA intends to incorporate the system into their unpredictable scheduling practices nationwide. In this paper we discuss the design choices and challenges encountered during the implementation of GUARDS. GUARDS represents promising potential for transitioning years of academic research into a nationally deployed system.

The paper, "GUARDS - Game Theoretic Security Allocation on a National Scale", won the Best Innovative Application Paper Award at AAMAS 2011


Title Author Published At Year Download
GUARDS - Innovative Application of Game Theory for National Airport Security James Pita, Milind Tambe, Christopher Kiekintveld, Shane Cullen and Erin Steigerwald International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) 2011 download
GUARDS and PROTECT: Next Generation Applications of Security Games Bo An, James Pita, Eric Shieh, Milind Tambe, Christopher Kiekintveld and Janusz Marecki ACM SIGecom 2011 download
GUARDS - Game Theoretic Security Allocation on a National Scale James Pita, Milind Tambe, Chris Kiekintveld, Shane Cullen and Erin Steigerwald International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems(Finalist for the Best Paper Award) 2011 download
Security Applications: Lessons of Real-World Deployment J. Pita, M. Jain, C. Kiekintveld, H. Bellamane, J. Tsai, M. Tambe, F. Ordonez ACM SIGecom Exchanges 2009 download

GUARDS in News

Funded by:


If you have any questions about the contents of this page please contact Parth Shah( )