After the Madrid bombing in 2004, US officials were
worried al-Qaeda was preparing an attack on the US
Governments, businesses and individuals do their best to forecast the future and act accordingly.

On Wednesday Riz speaks with a political scientist at New York University whose services are sought after by clients such as the US department of defence.

Professor Bruce Bueno De Mesquita uses a branch of mathematics called 'game theory' to predict political events.

Among the predictions made by De Mesquita's model was the Al-Aqsa Intifada – two years before it began. He also predicted the precise implementation of the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland, and the crackdown on Chinese dissidents in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

In 2004, after the Madrid train bombings, Pentagon officials were worried that al-Qaeda was planning a new attack on US soil. They asked De Mesquita to use his model, and his answer was unequivocal and accurate: there would be no attack on the US homeland.

More recently De Mesquita has been working on models to predict the prospects for change and democratisation.

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This episode of Riz Khan aired from Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at
1900GMT, with repeats at 0030GMT, 0530GMT, and 1000GMT

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