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PRIME  Point of Contact:  Dr John D Lowrance

Mailing address:
AI Center
SRI International
333 Ravenswood Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3493

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   Software Description

The Probative Rapid Interactive Modeling Environment (PRIME) is a decision-support web application that provides modeling and reasoning capabilities intended to stretch the thinking of analysts and decision makers by producing a forecast of the plausible effects that could result from taking actions in a given situation. The plausibility of each forecast effect is explained by one or more structured arguments. The benefits are intended to be pedagogical (stretching a user’s thinking via explanations of the identified plausible effects) rather than primarily prognostic (via predictive accuracy).

PRIME identifies plausible effects that could result from performing candidate actions at a site. Actions, for the purpose of PRIME modeling, are diplomatic, informational, military, or economic (DIME). A site includes one or more elements, each an entity or activity. An entity might be an actor (e.g., a person or organization), a physical entity (e.g., geographical, such as a region, country or village, or infrastructural, such as a building or road), or a conceptual entity (e.g., a religious or cultural icon). An activity might be occupational (e.g., fishing, trading) or social (e.g., communicating, voting). Each site element has one or more types (e.g., a bridge that is also a cultural icon) and zero or more relations. A relation in PRIME captures a connection between two site elements. For example, the relation has-leader could be used to connect a site element denoting a government (an organization) with another element denoting the current prime minister (a person). A site can also include descriptive profiles of its elements (e.g., to capture that a person is relatively affluent and has a post-graduate education).

To generate a forecast, PRIME uses a library of generic effects models (or rules) that describe plausible effects of actions on site elements. These include both the direct effects that actions can have on site elements as well as the indirect effects that can occur when changes in an element’s state impact the state of related elements. In addition to the effects models, generating a forecast requires a model of the site where actions are going to be taken: the site elements and their relations and descriptive profiles comprise the model of the site. PRIME must also be given the candidate plan whose effects are to be forecast; this is simply a set of actions to be taken against specific site elements. A subject matter expert (SME) creates these objects in PRIME:

  • Direct effects models (accumulated over time to form a library)
  • Indirect effects models (accumulated over time to form a library)
  • Site models (each specific to a site of interest)
  • Plans (each specific to a site model, capturing a candidate course of action being considered for the site)

The models in PRIME rely on three foundational constructs as building blocks:

  1. Effects templates containing the dimensions or categories of interest for describing the effects on site elements
  2. Profile templates containing the attributes of interest for describing site elements (e.g., cultural variables for profiling socio-cultural entities)
  3. Taxonomies defining action types, relation types, and site-element types

Since the templates and taxonomies must reflect the essential characteristics of the area of interest, we anticipate that they will be edited to include the types of entities, activities, relations, actions, effects, and cultural variables of local interest. Given this ontological, procedural, and situational knowledge, PRIME generates forecasts, first based on direct effects, then moving to first-order indirect effects, second-order indirect effects, and so on. The user may review the forecast at any stage, inspecting explanations of forecast effects and optionally editing the forecast. An edited forecast can result in different models being matched in the successive rounds of indirect-effects generation.


Name Title E-mail
Harrison, Ian W Alumnus
Lowrance, John D Program Director Emeritus
Murdock, Janet Senior Computer Scientist
Murray, Ken S Senior Computer Scientist
Yeh, Eric Computer Scientist

   Associated Projects

PRIME: A Predictive Model Development Environment
The goal was to develop PRIME, an effects-based modelling tool, as a web application. PRIME supports rapid, collaborative development of forecasts of the effects of a planned set of DIME (diplomatic, informational, military, or economic) actions.

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