A Markov model of terrorist behavior within the aviation security environment

Leticia J. Pacheco, John E. Kobza, Sheldon H. Jacobson, Rajat Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Methods to improve deterrence in aviation security screening systems provide added value in their operation and performance. A mathematical tool is introduced to optimally allocate security resources, design effective deterrence procedures, and identify where emphasis should be placed to achieve the most effective deterrence. A continuous-time Markov chain is used to model terrorist behavior within the aviation security environment. The resulting nine-state Markov chain model addresses three levels of behavior, three levels of expertise, and three levels of inactivity. Optimization is used to identify parameter values that minimize terrorist activity. The focus application for this approach is aviation security, though the modeling methodology introduced can be used in any area of security or law enforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Transportation Security
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Aviation security
  • Continuous time Markov chain
  • Human performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Law

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