Seminar: “Lanchester’s Equations and Drone Warfare”

On Monday, January 31, 2022, at 10 AM Central Standard Time, I will be giving the above-named seminar. The seminar will be available via Zoom at no charge using the link (passcode: 1234). Please note the passcode. Below is the abstract for this talk.


In his classic book Aircraft in Warfare, F. W. Lanchester discussed different types of warfare and presented equations, called the Lanchester equations, that can be used to model the results of battles between two forces of different sizes or capabilities. This paper introduces the Lanchester equations and provides a theoretical discussion leading to an analysis of the relative value of increasing the effectiveness of military assets vs. increasing the quantity of those assets. In particular, these equations show that increasing the effectiveness of the assets contributes only linearly to the power of a combatant, but increasing the quantity contributes quadratically. We will show how to model these equations in Python and show how to visualize the effect of force concentration. The talk concludes with a discussion of the relevance of Lanchester’s equations to cyberwarfare, specifically to drone warfare and DDoS attacks. More generally, we provide a foundation for analyzing the tradeoff between quality and quantity in warfare and show how to understand this tradeoff in economic terms. These equations are especially relevant given the increasing use of drones in warfare.