In a country, we have two groups of people: Green (5% of the population) and Purple people (95%). Some Purple people believe that Green people are a threat to national security, and think they should be eliminated from the country.

At the same time, new technologies are now available, that have dramatically changed the art and science of doing war. For instance, a device that looks like a cell phone, is able to beam an invisible ray of highly energetic particles to a distance of a few dozen feet, for a few seconds. Think of it as some kind of laser gun that produces invisible light, or highly targeted radioactive ray. When using the device, the target can be seen on the cell phone screen, even though the ray is invisible. This helps the shooter hits his target with high precision.

Depending on intensity, the beam emitted by the device - called a war phone - will make the victim sick over a period of several weeks, eventually killing him or her within a month. Or it may render the victim infertile. The victim is likely to die from what looks like radioactive internal burns. Nobody will be able to link the attack, to the resulting death occurring weeks later, especially as symptoms start appearing days after the attack.

The group that wants to eliminate the Green people is called the Penguins. The Penguins have enrolled 10,000 entrusted officers (who must obtain a security clearance), each one to "shoot" at one Green people per day (Green people are easy to recognize visually). That is, 10,000 x 365 shootings in a year, enough to eradicate the Green people, or at least, make them flee elsewhere.

How would you answer the following questions

Most of these questions can be solved using simulations.

  • What is the expected rate of false positives / false negatives (killing friendly Green people, or Purple people)
  • How to choose the locations / targets for either maximum efficiency, or to minimize early detection? Should we be more active in places inhabited by many Green people, or the other way around?
  • How long will it take before someone notices something, and a scandal explodes, maybe ending the operations, or worse?
  • What if the Green people steal some of these guns and start shooting at the Purple people? Given the fact that Greens are a minority and can kill only so many Purple people, is it a risk worth taking? Should these guns stop working after one year, or must be activated using the fingerprints of the owner, or a code, to prevent  misuse?
  • What are the optimal parameters in this military campaign (number of officers hired in this operations, number of war phones produced, number of shootings per officer per day, who to target, optimum intensity of the ray, when to stop the campaign, etc.)


Answering these same questions, via the same simulations, also applies to other contexts:

  • An Hollywood producer who wants to make a realistic movie about this "war" scenario
  • A game designer who wants to develop a game based on this scenario
  • An high school student who got this problem to solve, as part of his homework
  • An author who wants to write a realistic book about this scenario

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A new technology is artificial insects (drones) about the same size as mosquitoes. You could use them to sting "undesirable" individuals, and poison them to death, or infect them with dengue fever or some other disease.


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