AbstractTraditional methods for detection of nuclear proliferation indicators are usually applied after nuclear proliferation has already occurred. There is a need to advance these methods to perform early detection of nuclear proliferation indicators. In this project, we formulated an early detection problem as a sequential, decision-making, goal inference problem based on research publications of authors, to determine whether it is possible to infer whether an author will publish on a research activity before it has occurred. To develop and test our approach, we selected a civil nuclear activity for our case study. We constructed a state-action-state transition graph from publications of authors associated with the activity and the co-authors of their publications, using titles, abstracts, and author publication sequences. We then used inverse reinforcement learning to model the goal-directed behavior of authors in trajectories that terminate at selected goal states. Using a Bayesian formulation, we computed the probability that authors would reach each selected state from partially observed trajectories of their state transitions in their research topic space. The state with the highest probability was selected as the most probable goal state. Based on our results, we found that 60% of the times we can infer the correct goal state early; sometimes the inference is either delayed, or multiple states could be inferred as goal states. Overall, our results show that it is possible to perform early detection of research activities of authors in a nuclear technology area. Further research is necessary to establish a more accurate understanding of how topic modeling, topic space grid discretization, and the extent of overlap among trajectories of different goal states, affect the goal inference results. The methods developed in this work may be used to enhance data-driven methods for early detection of nuclear proliferation indicators.
Published: October 24, 2023