Visualization Tools to Adapt to Complex Military Environments

Mike Barnes, John Warner, David Hillis, Liana Suantak, Jerzy Rozenblit, Patricia McDermott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter addresses adaptation to dynamic, novel and uncertain military environments. These environments require a shift from a maneuver warfare paradigm to an asymmetric world where shifting alliances, questionable civilian loyalties, opaque cultures, and the requirement to maintain peace one day and combat the next makes for a particularly confusing situation. This new warfare paradigm requires adaptation to an uncertain, complex environment. The initial section discusses a general cognitive model of visualization called RAVENS and its importance for adaptation developed specifically to address complex military environments. RAVENS posits that humans are inherently flexible decision makers and situation awareness depends on the ability of humans to create narrative visualizations that capture the overall context of complex military environments. Using the framework as a guideline, we will examine two important visualization research programs whose purpose is to allow military operators to rapidly adapt to volatile situations. The first program investigates cognitive effects such as the framing bias and their possible interactions with a variety of display concepts during a series of missile defense simulations. The experimenters presented risk as a spatial representation of uncertainty and target value that emphasized either expected population lost or expected population saved. The second program investigated the feasibility of using visualizations generated from Scheherazade (a coevolutionary algorithm) to aid MI analysts in predicting emergent tactics of terrorist groups during urban operations. Finally, we discuss the value of these approaches for providing coherent narrative understanding as called for in the RAVENS model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Adaptability
Subtitle of host publicationA Prerequisite for Effective Performance within Complex Environments
EditorsShawn Burke, Eduardo Salas, Linda Pierce
Number of pages41
StatePublished - 2006

Publication series

NameAdvances in Human Performance and Cognitive Engineering Research
ISSN (Print)1479-3601

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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