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Michael Gabbay

Senior Principal Physicist






Dr. Gabbay's current research involves the development of mathematical models and computational simulations of network dynamics, focusing on social and political systems. He has also conducted research in the areas of nonequilibrium pattern formation, coupled oscillator dynamics, sensor development, and data analysis algorithms. His work has appeared in physics, engineering, biology, and political science publications. Dr. Gabbay received a B.A. in physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago with a specialization in nonlinear dynamics.


B.A. Physics, Cornell University, 1985

M.S. Physics, University of Chicago, 1987

Ph.D. Physics, University of Chicago, 1997


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Evaluating militant decision-making with information science: The Irish republican movement during the 'Troubles'

Eastin, J. E.K. Gade, and M. Gabbay, "Evaluating militant decision-making with information science: The Irish republican movement during the 'Troubles'," Conflict Manage. Peace Sci., EOR, doi:10.1177/07388942231216729, 2023.

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10 Dec 2023

Why do militant groups decide to escalate or deescalate their use of violence in conflict? Examining the case of the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, we analyze groups that adopt violence as a political strategy and evaluate factors that influence its application. To do so, we adopt a novel empirical approach to the study of militant groups. Drawn from information science, this approach enables estimation of variable influence and uncertainty within structured case studies, and is thus ideal for topics such as militant decision-making where systematic data collection is difficult.

Transitions between peace and systemic war as bifurcations in a signed network dynamical system

Morrison, M., J.N. Kutz, and M. Gabbay, "Transitions between peace and systemic war as bifurcations in a signed network dynamical system," Network Sci., 11, 458-501, doi:10.1017/nws.2023.10, 2023.

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1 Sep 2023

We investigate structural features and processes associated with the onset of systemic conflict using an approach which integrates complex systems theory with network modeling and analysis. We present a signed network model of cooperation and conflict dynamics in the context of international relations between states. The model evolves ties between nodes under the influence of a structural balance force and a dyad-specific force. Model simulations exhibit a sharp bifurcation from peace to systemic war as structural balance pressures increase, a bistable regime in which both peace and war stable equilibria exist, and a hysteretic reverse bifurcation from war to peace. We show how the analytical expression we derive for the peace-to-war bifurcation condition implies that polarized network structure increases susceptibility to systemic war. We develop a framework for identifying patterns of relationship perturbations that are most destabilizing and apply it to the network of European great powers before World War I. We also show that the model exhibits critical slowing down, in which perturbations to the peace equilibrium take longer to decay as the system draws closer to the bifurcation. We discuss how our results relate to international relations theories on the causes and catalysts of systemic war.

Strategies of armed group consolidation in the Afghan civil war (1989–2001)

Erickson, M., and M. Gabbay, "Strategies of armed group consolidation in the Afghan civil war (1989–2001)," Stud. Conflict Terror., EOR, doi:10.1080/1057610X.2021.2013752, 2021.

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20 Dec 2021

What explains the variation in the strategies of consolidation among armed groups? We examine three conditions that can explain the modes of militant consolidation — territorial control, organizational structure, and external support. We test these theoretical conjectures using unique time series data on armed group consolidation in Afghanistan from 1989 to 2001. Using a linear probability model, we find that territorial control, organizational structure, and fungible forms of external support have the most significant impact on explaining consolidation. This article contributes to the study of armed group dynamics by drawing on existing theory and leveraging original data to explain variation in strategies of militant consolidation.

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Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center