Former Research - James Pita

Behavioral Game Theory and Game Theoretic Modeling

This research focuses on developing new game-theoretic models and solution algorithms for real-world security domains. These solution algorithms are use-inspired and designed to efficiently solve large scale real-world problems, such as the Game-theoretic Unpredictable and Randomly Deployed Security (GUARDS) tool created for the United States Transportation Security Administration. Most existing models make strict assumptions on the underlying games, such as all players are perfectly rational, and thus may not translate well to real-world problems. I focus on creating extensions to these models to address real-world concerns when dealing with human adversaries and different terrorist organizations. These include dealing with model uncertainties such as which particular terrorist organization we may face, accounting for human social biases, handling specific human preferences, addressing opponent observational uncertainty, and addressing human bounded rationality to name a few. These models will be both empirically and qualitatively validated through mathematical proofs and experimentation.

GUARDS (Game-theoretic Unpredictable and Randomly Deployed Security):

This research is being done in collaboration with the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The goal is to optimally allocate limited TSA resources between different targets and a variety of security activities. The challenges we face are both solving this complex game efficiently and reasoning over a potentially innumerable number of attacker actions. To address these problems I developed a new game model known as Security Circumvention Games (SCGs) which cast this problem as a Stackelberg game, allowing agents to appropriately weight the different actions in randomization while considering an intelligent adversary who will monitor the security policy and plan an attack path to circumvent security activities.

ARMOR (Assistant for Randomized Monitoring Over Routes):

This research involves working on the security patrolling problem. Specifically, when and where to patrol/monitor areas of importance. We find that it is critical to maintain a level of randomness in security while still maintaining specific quality constraints. ARMOR is a software assistant that casts this patrolling/monitoring problem as a Bayesian Stackelberg game, allowing agents to appropriately weigh the different actions in randomization, as well as uncertainty over adversary types.


TRUE STORY is a system architecture that was designed to address issues concerning dynamically generated quest or story paths in persistent worlds, such as MMORPGs, for users to engage in more enhanced, interactive and personal experiences. TRUE STORY empowers persistent world designers by offering a truly modular approach for dynamically generating and presenting compelling content that results in user experiences worth telling a story about.

Phylogenic Tree Reconstruction:

The reconstruction of phylogenic tress is currently being explored for evolutionary studies. The methods used for these reconstructions are becoming more complex and rigorous as the principles behind them are becoming apparent. As more phylogenies are biologically discovered it is becoming easier to find known trees to compare results to. With concrete results at hand metods are being examined and corrected to conform to the model. I explored a character-weighting method which assigns different weights to each section of a phylogeny based on the portion of the tree that was being examined. After incorporating these weights a method known as neighbor joining was applied to the new set of data to attempt reconstruction of the deepest branch of the phylogeny

Gene Searching Algorithm:

Various gene-searching algorithms presently exist to search genomic databases for Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) sequences. However, as genomic databases continue to grow in size with the discovery of new genes and new organisms these algorithms are becoming more inefficient and uneconomical for accomplishing the task of sequence searching. The algorithm I worked on attempted to sequentially search a database of DNA and in one pass calculate the number of matches a gene sequence would experience at each position in the genome.

Synthetic Spider Silk:

Spider silk is a material that can be used for various applications ranging from military to medical. Thus, the creation of a sequence of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) that will produce spider silk protein is being explored. Once produced this protein will be manipulated to create a synthetic spider silk as strong as naturally occurring spider silk. Through the use of restriction enzymes, synthetic genes can be assembled that mimic the behavior of spider genes and code for the production of silk protein. After the successful creation of these new strains of genes, they can be transplanted into bacteria, which will then be used to produce spider silk protein.

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