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  • PhD Defense - Shahrzad Gholami

    Wed, Apr 03, 2019 @ 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

    Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science

    University Calendar

    Ph.D. Defense - Shahrzad Gholami
    Wed, April 3, 2019
    10:30 AM - 12:00 Noon
    Location: EEB 132

    Predicting and Planning against Real-world Adversaries: An End-to-end Pipeline to Combat Illegal Wildlife Poachers on a Global Scale

    PhD Candidate: Shahrzad Gholami
    Date, Time, and Location: Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 10:30 am in EEB 132
    Committee: Prof. Milind Tambe (chair), Prof. Aram Galstyan, and Prof. Emilio Ferrara, Prof. Richard John, Prof. Sze-Chuan Suen


    Security is a global concern and a unifying theme in various security projects is strategic reasoning where the mathematical framework of machine learning and game theory can be integrated and applied. For example, in the environmental sustainability domain, the problem of protecting endangered wildlife from attacks (i.e., poachers' strikes) can be abstracted as a game between defender(s) and attacker(s). Applying previous research on security games to sustainability domains (denoted as Green Security Games) introduce several novel challenges that I address in my thesis to create computationally feasible and accurate algorithms in order to model complex adversarial behavior based on the real-world data and to generate optimal defender strategy. My thesis provides four main contributions to the emerging body of research in using machine learning and game theory framework for the fundamental challenges existing in the environmental sustainability domain, namely (i) novel spatio-temporal and uncertainty-aware machine learning models for complex adversarial behavior based on the imperfect real-world data, (ii) the first large-scale field test evaluation of the machine learning models in the adversarial settings concerning the environmental sustainability, (iii) a novel multi-expert online learning model for constrained patrol planning, and (iv) the first game theoretical model to generate optimal defender strategy against collusive adversaries. In regard to the first contribution, I developed bounded rationality models for adversaries based on the real-world data that account for the naturally occurring uncertainty in past attack evidence collected by defenders. To that end, I proposed two novel predictive behavioral models, which I improved progressively. The second major contribution of my thesis is a large-scale field test evaluation of the proposed adversarial behavior model beyond the laboratory. Particularly, my thesis is motivated by the challenges in wildlife poaching, where I directed the defenders (i.e., rangers) to the hotspots of adversaries that they would have missed. During these experiments across multiple vast national parks, several snares and snared animals were detected, and poachers were arrested, potentially more wildlife saved. The algorithm I proposed, that combines machine learning and game-theoretic patrol planning is planned to be deployed at 600 national parks around the world in the near future to combat poaching. The third contribution in my thesis introduces a novel multi-expert online learning model for constrained and randomized patrol planning, which benefits from several expert planners where insufficient or imperfect historical records of past attacks are available to learn adversarial behavior. The final contribution of my thesis is developing an optimal solution against collusive adversaries in security games assuming both rational and boundedly rational adversaries. I conducted human subject experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk involving 700 human subjects using a web-based game that simulates collusive security games.

    Location: Hughes Aircraft Electrical Engineering Center (EEB) - 132

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Lizsl De Leon

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