The Probability of Nuclear War

Rudolf Avenhaus, John Fichtner, Steven J. Brams, D. Marc Kilgour

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A theoretical analysis of the probability of nuclear war is developed that assumes a starting probability and an annual reduction factor. Whatever the starting probability is, a constant reduction factor leads to an eventual probability that is less than 1, whereas the eventual probability goes to 1 if there is no reduction or if the reduction proportion decreases at a constant rate. Numerical calculations and graphical results illustrate trade-offs between the starting probabilities and the reduction factors, demonstrating especially the significance of the latter. In addition, upper and lower limits for, and approximations of, the eventual probabilities - along with measures of the rate of convergence - are derived. The applicability of the analysis to lowering the probability of nuclear war is discussed, with particular attention paid to real-life factors that seem to affect this probability.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)91-99
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Peace Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 1989

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Safety Research
    • Political Science and International Relations


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